Introduction
 
Executive Summary
 
Background
 
California: The Changing Context
 
Tidal Wave II Revisited
 
The Original Projections
 
The 1994 Projections vs.Today's Reality
 
Accounting for the Growth
 
Updated Projections
 
How the Cohorts Have Changed
 
Is This a Tidal Wave?
 
Conclusion
 
Improving Projections
 
Endnotes
 
About the National Center

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Introduction

It has been three years since a panel of experts completed its independent review of higher education enrollment projections in California. The review, Tidal Wave II: An Evaluation of Enrollment Projections for California Higher Education, was supported by the California Higher Education Policy Center and was released in 1995. Since that time, much has changed in California. The economy has greatly improved, tuition has declined, and high school students, in greater numbers, are preparing themselves for college. In light of these and other changes, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, in the summer of 1998, reconvened the same panel of experts to reassess the enrollment projections in order to determine if the estimates have been reliable sources for planning, and if the forecasts for the long-term have been revised. The panel's recent charge was similar to its charge in 1995: to offer its best advice on the levels of enrollments that should be anticipated, consistent with California's historic policy of assuring higher education opportunity for those who are motivated and qualified.

The conclusions are described in this report. The panel found that the enrollment projections it recommended and outlined in 1995 have been a reliable guide for planning in California--that the underlying assumptions on which the projections were based were solid. Indeed, current enrollment is slightly higher than projected. The recent findings reinforce the panel's original conclusion that enrollment projections are driven by state policy decisions and by the opportunities that California's colleges and universities provide. The panel provides evidence that the students of Tidal Wave II are beginning to enroll in California colleges. The panel also makes recommendations about how to strengthen enrollment projections for future planning.

The National Center would like to thank the expert panel for their work in this area. Panel members include: David Breneman, University Professor and Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Leobardo Estrada, Professor in the Graduate School of Public Policy and Social Research at UCLA, and Gerald Hayward, Director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). The report was funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
The National Center welcomes the reactions of readers.

Joni E. Finney
Vice President
National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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