Community college enrollment drops during coronavirus: What campuses are doing to support students in a pandemic

Community school enrollment drops throughout coronavirus: What campuses are doing to assist students in a pandemic

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Community schools serve a number of the inhabitants disproportionally affected by the pandemic, together with working grownup learners and minority populations.

So because the pandemic shuttered campuses — but additionally jobs, daycares, and colleges — these colleges wanted to step up assist providers to keep up enrollment.

Cuyahoga Community College’s enrollment elevated about 1.5% between Fall 2018 and Fall 2019, however in Fall 2020, enrollment dropped steeply — about 20%. Numbers are nonetheless in flux for the spring, as enrollment continues. The school appears to be recovering within the spring, with a drop of about 15% in year-to-year enrollment. Lorain County Community College, which has in regards to the enrollment of Tri-C, additionally skilled a slight drop. Fall enrollment dropped about 1% and spring enrollment is down about 8.5% to date.

Community schools nationwide are additionally experiencing decline in enrollment. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reveals an 18.9% lower in enrollment at neighborhood schools, in comparison with 10.5% at public four-year schools and eight.5% at personal, nonprofit four-year colleges.

Tri-C surveyed students about what was presenting challenges in the course of the pandemic. Angela Johnson, vp of entry and completion, stated a number of the points included:

— needing to discover a job or various work due to layoffs

— a job that conflicted with time to take courses, both in-person or nearly

— serving to relations who had skilled a monetary hit attributable to COVID-19

— serving to relations who had been experiencing well being points attributable to COVID-19

— balancing working remotely, youngsters who had been taking courses remotely and taking courses remotely

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— experiencing meals or housing insecurity attributable to monetary challenges from the pandemic

“(Community colleges have) a population that has a lot more to juggle to be able to make it to work, to go to school,” LCCC’s Vice President for Enrollment Marisa Vernon White stated.

Tri-C has a student inhabitants the place 40% are from minority teams, 70% p.c study part-time and 33% are in night or technical courses, as of 2019. LCCC’s inhabitants is about 66% half time and 45% are 25 and older. About 10 p.c are Black and 11.8% are Hispanic, barely extra numerous than the demographics of the county.

Minority teams have been affected by the pandemic disproportionately, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noting the issue might be with long-standing systemic well being and social inequities, together with decreased entry to well being care and jobs with sustainable pay.

What assist providers have helped?

Tri-C and LCCC shared the identical approaches to supporting students by way of the pandemic, which regularly imply providing assist for all times exterior the classroom:

— Expanding present assets. For LCCC, that meant connecting students with the Advocacy and Resource Center, a hub the place students can go for assist discovering assets. LCCC’s Children’s Learning Center is now open for childcare, although it was initially shuttered by pandemic restrictions. And LCCC and Tri-C each have on-campus meals banks and connections to different meals sources.

— Financial support. Tri-C earmarked $5 million in CARES federal funding for direct student assist. About 80% was awarded to students between final spring and January, Johnson stated. LCCC connects students with one-time emergency grants and small loans by way of the Advocacy and Resource Center.

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Technology assist. As courses shifted to on-line and hybrid, neighborhood schools wanted to assist students who had not used a pc for on-line studying. Along with direct tech assist, neighborhood schools — like different establishments — wanted to ensure students had computer systems and web to finish coursework. Through an identical program at Tri-C, students may pay half for a brand new laptop and donor {dollars} would make up the opposite half.

Improving the switch expertise. Moving to a brand new school may really feel overwhelming when it’s carried out solely on-line. LCCC employed its first switch coordinator and held its first digital switch honest to assist students transfer by way of the method and make them extra snug in an unfamiliar scenario.

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