California’s fall 2021 undergraduate enrollment has fallen by nearly a quarter of a million students since pre-pandemic fall 2019, according to a survey released Thursday.
National Student Clearinghouse report shows California saw an overall drop of over 99,000 – or 4.3% – in undergraduate enrollments from fall 2020 to fall 2021, mostly due to a drop of 9.9% of community colleges.
The overall drop in enrollment over one year is less than the fall of 148,113 in fall 2020 when students were online.
Nationally, enrollments fell 3.1% between fall 2020 and fall 2021, a loss of 465,300 students, bringing the combined enrollment losses since fall 2019 to over a million.
“Our latest fall 2021 enrollment snapshot shows undergraduates continue to sit in droves as colleges go through another year of COVID-19,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Without a dramatic re-engagement in their education, the potential loss to the income and future of these students is significant, which will have a dramatic impact on the nation as a whole in the years to come. “
The report offers a more complete estimate than the nonprofit’s previous November report which estimated an overall drop of 6.5% in California, largely because about 33% more institutions reported data.
Declines in four-year public universities were also seen across the country. In California, four-year public university enrollments are down 2.9% from fall 2020, better than in 25 other states.
California recorded the eighth-highest percentage drop in community college enrollment, after Washington, New York, Maine, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Shapiro said the decline in community colleges is likely due to students choosing the job market over education.
Enrollment numbers are not yet available for the start of the spring term 2022, when the University of California, California State University, and private college campuses delayed the start of in-person teaching at the University of California. mid-growing cases of the Omicron variant. Community colleges statewide have largely stuck to hybrid schedules.
In the Los Angeles Community College District, on-site classes represent 4,475 enrollments, or about 15% of district-wide enrollment, Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez said at a board meeting on Wednesday. The most recent data for winter classes showed an enrollment of around 27,389.
The goal for the spring term, which begins in February, is to have a “50-50 split” between remote and in-person registrations.
“However, the goal may or may not be met due to students’ personal safety choices regarding the current wave and preferences for signing up for in-person sessions. We monitor that, we test that, we follow the students on it, we review the registrations very, very carefully, and of course, try to meet the needs of the students, ”Rodriguez said.
Community colleges have struggled to recruit first-time students and reconnect with those who withdrew during the pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget solved the difficulty by proposing $ 150 million to build on a previous investment of $ 120 million in community college enrollment and recruiting efforts.