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Part I: Is There A Bigger Enrollment Crises In Higher Ed Than We Currently Realize? by George Lorenzo On 9-16-2020, the Washington Post published an article headlined “The latest crisis: Low-income students are dropping out of college this fall in alarming numbers.” The article begins with a profile of a first-generation college student who also became the first in her family to drop out of college. She simply could not get good WiFi at her rural home, could not use her local library because of the pandemic, and tried using a McDonald’s high-speed Internet connection but was kicked off by her community college because the network was deemed unsafe. She withdrew from classes after two weeks into the fall semester. The Post also reported that “some 100,000 fewer high school seniors completed financial aid applications to attend college this year.” Additionally, “students from families with incomes under $75,000 are nearly twice as likely to say they ‘cancelled all plans’ to take classes this fall as students from families with incomes over $100,000, according to a U.S. Census survey in late August.” There are additional extenuating factors taking place, such as students experiencing financial hardship due to job loss; family and living situations that are not even close to providing supportive and effective home-based online learning environments; and, in general, a strong preference to take classes offered in-person (which are basically not available at most institutions these days) instead of paying the same tuition rates and fees for fully online courses that do not offer the same student services that in-person enrollments have historically offered students. An April 13 article published by Inside Higher Ed outlined how students studying in a fully online modality were feeling shortchanged last spring, especially related to fees. Some of their gripes included their dislike for shortened quarters, unfair room and board fees, no in-person mental health counseling available, and no services related to recreational and social activities. The fall semester may have rectified such problems at many institutions, but it remains to be seen how effectively. Even if in-person classes were more readily available, many students and parents alike are concerned and worried about related health and safety issues, and the numbers are starting to reveal that such concerns are entirely justified. A New York Times survey of more than 1,600 American colleges and universities tracked campus-based infections. On September 25, the survey revealed there has been “at least 130,000 cases and at least 70 deaths since the pandemic began. Most of the cases have been announced since students returned to campus for the fall term. Most of the deaths were reported in the spring and involved college employees, not students.” Uncharacteristically, community colleges are bearing the worst brunt of low enrollments. As noted in an EdSource article on California Community Colleges, some campuses are reporting double-digit losses. Typically, community colleges experience enrollment increases during times of economic hardship, but that trend seems to be not happening this fall. According to EdSource, “the situation appears to be different this year, with the picture complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, job losses, the transition to mostly online classes and historic wildfires.” The article also noted that “the declining enrollments during the current recession are at least in part a reflection of students’ reluctance or inability to participate in online instruction.” Education Futurist Bryan Alexander gave an update on enrollment declines in his September 24 blog post titled “American higher ed enrollment declined in fall 2020. Again.” Taking into account newly released data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Alexander summarizes and reflects upon what’s going on in the higher ed enrollment arena. First, it’s important to realize, as Alexander reported, that the recent Clearinghouse data covers only about 14% of all of higher ed. Secondly, “every institutional sector saw losses, especially community colleges.” Third, Alexander explains that such data is “another iteration of a long-running decline,” and pretty much “bad news if we want to increase post-secondary access for underrepresented populations.” For another take on enrollment declines, see Inside Higher Ed’s September 24 article headlined “Community College Enrollments Drop This Fall.” While reporter Elizabeth Redden wrote mostly about community colleges, she did also write that, on the opposite side of the enrollment decline, “total graduate enrollment increased by 3.9%,” growing “across all racial and ethnic groups, with the biggest gains seen in enrollments of Hispanic (+14.2 percent), American Indian/Native American (+10.2 percent) and Asian (+9.3 percent) students. The number of Black students enrolled in graduate programs increased by 8.4 percent. Graduate enrollments increased by 9.1 percent at private for-profit colleges, 4.7 percent at public four-year colleges and 0.6 percent at private nonprofit four-year institutions.” What does all that graduate education data portend for higher ed? From a personal perspective, I am wondering how many undergraduate resident students forced to go home in the spring decided to drop out in the fall. Could it be a large number because these students, in particular, decided that it would be more to their liking to go out and find a full-time job, along with their own place to live, as opposed to studying in a fully online modality while being sheltered in place with their parents? I would guess that it is substantial number. I’m also wondering whether or not this particular group of students will return to college full-time by next spring or in the fall of 2021. Finally, please feel free to send me a note if you think this is a topic that should be covered in more depth inside future issues of Edpath, along with what, in your opinion, would be be the most effective way to cover this topic of interest. Just email me at glorenzo@edpath.com.
© Copyright 2020/Lorenzo Associates, Inc.
EDUCATIONALPathways
Part I: Is There A Bigger Enrollment Crises In Higher Ed Than We Currently Realize? by George Lorenzo On 9-16-2020, the Washington Post published an article headlined “The latest crisis: Low-income students are dropping out of college this fall in alarming numbers.” The article begins with a profile of a first-generation college student who also became the first in her family to drop out of college. She simply could not get good WiFi at her rural home, could not use her local library because of the pandemic, and tried using a McDonald’s high-speed Internet connection but was kicked off by her community college because the network was deemed unsafe. She withdrew from classes after two weeks into the fall semester. The Post also reported that “some 100,000 fewer high school seniors completed financial aid applications to attend college this year.” Additionally, “students from families with incomes under $75,000 are nearly twice as likely to say they ‘cancelled all plans’ to take classes this fall as students from families with incomes over $100,000, according to a U.S. Census survey in late August.” There are additional extenuating factors taking place, such as students experiencing financial hardship due to job loss; family and living situations that are not even close to providing supportive and effective home-based online learning environments; and, in general, a strong preference to take classes offered in-person (which are basically not available at most institutions these days) instead of paying the same tuition rates and fees for fully online courses that do not offer the same student services that in-person enrollments have historically offered students. An April 13 article published by Inside Higher Ed outlined how students studying in a fully online modality were feeling shortchanged last spring, especially related to fees. Some of their gripes included their dislike for shortened quarters, unfair room and board fees, no in-person mental health counseling available, and no services related to recreational and social activities. The fall semester may have rectified such problems at many institutions, but it remains to be seen how effectively. Even if in-person classes were more readily available, many students and parents alike are concerned and worried about related health and safety issues, and the numbers are starting to reveal that such concerns are entirely justified. A New York Times survey of more than 1,600 American colleges and universities tracked campus-based infections. On September 25, the survey revealed there has been “at least 130,000 cases and at least 70 deaths since the pandemic began. Most of the cases have been announced since students returned to campus for the fall term. Most of the deaths were reported in the spring and involved college employees, not students.” Uncharacteristically, community colleges are bearing the worst brunt of low enrollments. As noted in an EdSource article on California Community Colleges, some campuses are reporting double-digit losses. Typically, community colleges experience enrollment increases during times of economic hardship, but that trend seems to be not happening this fall. According to EdSource, “the situation appears to be different this year, with the picture complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, job losses, the transition to mostly online classes and historic wildfires.” The article also noted that “the declining enrollments during the current recession are at least in part a reflection of students’ reluctance or inability to participate in online instruction.” Education Futurist Bryan Alexander gave an update on enrollment declines in his September 24 blog post titled “American higher ed enrollment declined in fall 2020. Again.” Taking into account newly released data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Alexander summarizes and reflects upon what’s going on in the higher ed enrollment arena. First, it’s important to realize, as Alexander reported, that the recent Clearinghouse data covers only about 14% of all of higher ed. Secondly, “every institutional sector saw losses, especially community colleges.” Third, Alexander explains that such data is “another iteration of a long-running decline,” and pretty much “bad news if we want to increase post-secondary access for underrepresented populations.” For another take on enrollment declines, see Inside Higher Ed’s September 24 article headlined “Community College Enrollments Drop This Fall.” While reporter Elizabeth Redden wrote mostly about community colleges, she did also write that, on the opposite side of the enrollment decline, “total graduate enrollment increased by 3.9%,” growing “across all racial and ethnic groups, with the biggest gains seen in enrollments of Hispanic (+14.2 percent), American Indian/Native American (+10.2 percent) and Asian (+9.3 percent) students. The number of Black students enrolled in graduate programs increased by 8.4 percent. Graduate enrollments increased by 9.1 percent at private for- profit colleges, 4.7 percent at public four-year colleges and 0.6 percent at private nonprofit four- year institutions.” What does all that graduate education data portend for higher ed? From a personal perspective, I am wondering how many undergraduate resident students forced to go home in the spring decided to drop out in the fall. Could it be a large number because these students, in particular, decided that it would be more to their liking to go out and find a full-time job, along with their own place to live, as opposed to studying in a fully online modality while being sheltered in place with their parents? I would guess that it is substantial number. I’m also wondering whether or not this particular group of students will return to college full-time by next spring or in the fall of 2021. Finally, please feel free to send me a note if you think this is a topic that should be covered in more depth inside future issues of Edpath, along with what, in your opinion, would be be the most effective way to cover this topic of interest. Just email me at glorenzo@edpath.com.