Community colleges have encountered an unfortunate consequence of COVID-19— lower enrollment rates.
Enrollment trends during the 2020 pandemic are very unlike those during the Great Recession of 2008 where community colleges saw a 10% increase in enrollment from the previous year. Community colleges as a whole are seeing the opposite this time around despite high unemployment rates correlating with a rise in community college enrollment.
Across the board, community college enrollment is down 9% while freshman enrollment is down a staggering 19 percent as of November 2020.
As COVID-19 vaccinations roll out and students begin to go to their courses in person again, community colleges will need to look at new ways of demonstrating their value to possible students.
Community College Enrollment Trends During the 2008 Recession
A 2019 report from the American Association of Community Colleges identified the relationship between the rise in unemployment and a rise in community college enrollment.
In the months and years following the 2008 recession, individuals that were unemployed or underemployed went back to school with the help of grant money to gain new skills and find a new place in the American economy.
The economic uncertainty we are experiencing now is considerably different than the one in 2008–the primary reason, of course, being COVID-19.
Students are faced with different challenges like:
- the safety of in-person classes;
- the uncertainty of COVID-19 case surges closing business; and
- the increase of community college tuition over the last decade.
When students add their health on top of the mountain of other risks, more calculations need to be made when deciding on whether or not to enroll in higher education.
Students want to understand the value of a community college education
COVID-19 is making community colleges think about how they can ensure that their enrollment isn’t affected by recessions, public health issues, or any other issue presented to them.
While they may not be able to control the cost of their tuition, they help students understand that the investment in their education is worth the results.
44% of students surveyed in the 2020 Princeton Review College Hopes and Worries Survey say that they will choose a college with the best program that fits their career interests.
For community college students that means they are looking for affordable schools that will help them get a career that pays well after graduation or put them on a pathway into a 4-year college to get their bachelor’s degree.
Helping students understand their investment with Awato
Students are more invested in their college education than ever before. Students are interested in getting personalized information about:
- The programs offered at each college
- The cost of attending each college
- The career outcomes are available after completion at each college
When students have the ability to shop around, colleges should want to be able to stand out explaining their value to prospective students and providing them with a clear roadmap from enrollment to transferring to a 4-year college or a career.
Awato’s interactive content and robust career assessment platform assist both admissions teams and students alike.
With Awato’s interactive content, admissions teams can show the value of their degree offerings to their prospective students earlier in the admissions process and give their stealth website visitors an additional reason to provide their information to admissions teams.
Students can explore careers and educational opportunities in a flexible and visual pathway with Awato’s robust career assessments. These assessments will help students identify their interests, find the best majors and careers for them, and see how each community college’s program offerings will help them reach their goals.