A post-secondary education by American workers is increasingly the clearest pathway to the middle and upper classes. The day when people could leave high school and provide for their families by working in a local industry is fast disappearing from the American landscape.

A recent study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reported that by 2018, 101 million U.S. jobs will require a post-secondary degree as compared with 61 million jobs for college dropouts and those with only a high-school education. The 61 million jobs tend to be in three categories, food services, blue collar, retail and office support occupations.

The 23 institutions on the 2012 San Diego Business Journal’s Colleges and Universities list represent a broad range of educational opportunities, spanning a traditional four-year education, specialized study in art and architecture, technical training and law.

The criterion used to rank the list is the total fall enrollment for 2011.

As a group, the total fall enrollment for 2011 is 222,380 students, down from the 2010 reported enrollment of 224,815 or 1 percent.

The total 2012 spring enrollment of 224,534 students was down 1.6 percent from 2011.

San Diego State University, No. 1 on the list this year, has held the top spot for enrollment in San Diego County on the journal’s list for well over five years. The fall enrollment for 2011 of 31,303 students is just under 2,000 fewer students than No. 2 ranked UC San Diego. UCSD has more full-time students enrolled for the spring than SDSU by just over 4500 students, however.

The largest percentage increase in student enrollment for the fall of 2011 was from No. 19, United States University reporting an increase of 278 students from 2010.

United States University (formerly InterAmerican College) prepares bilingual professionals for schools and hospitals, according to the university’s website. The university focuses specifically on recruiting working adult students, Latinos, educated immigrants, and others who may have not had the same access to higher education due to gender, ethnicity, race, economic status, and cultural barriers. President and CEO of USU, Timothy P. Cole said in an email that that the growth was the result of increased marketing activities and enhanced program offerings.

“The university is focused on providing educational opportunities to an underserved population, which has embraced the affordable tuitions offered by USU,” he said.

The second highest percentage increase in fall 2011 enrollment was the No. 22 ranked California International Business University. Reporting growth in enrollment of 22 percent, CIBU has been located in downtown San Diego since the summer of 1995 according its website.