Pandemic Yields Steep Declines in College Enrollment

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows community college enrollment has taken a major hit during the coronavirus pandemic.

All colleges saw a 22% decline in the number of high school students enrolling after graduation. That’s eight times the decline seen before the COVID-19 crisis. Among community colleges, it was even worse. The enrollment decline was 30%.

Schools with a high percentage of low-income students and students of color were more likely to see graduates forgo college enrollment. That was true for immediate community college enrollment, as well as for four-year universities.

“These effects align very closely with what we know about the disparate impacts of the pandemic and the recession on disadvantaged communities in urban communities,” said Douglas Shapiro, executive director of the research center, during a discussion of the report. “It’s a very discouraging confirmation with real numbers of what we expected all along that the gaps would widen between these disadvantaged communities and their more advantaged peers.”

Read the full report here and this analysis from EdSource. 


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