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Many Colleges in New England Saw Enrollment Plummet this Fall

Many Colleges in New England Saw Enrollment Plummet this Fall

“The schools that were weak coming in are going to be weaker coming out.”

This is only the beginning. If colleges continue to remain only half open and enforce strict rules for behavior due to the pandemic, it will only get worse.

The Boston Globe reports:

Enrollment plummeted at many New England colleges this fall

Many New England colleges experienced unprecedented enrollment declines this fall, as students opted out of remote learning or job losses pushed tuition out of reach, putting further pressure on financially struggling institutions.

At more than two dozen colleges and universities across the region, the number of full-time graduate and undergraduate students plummeted by more than 20 percent this September compared with the previous year, according to the New England Commission of Higher Education, the regional accrediting agency.

Another 50 colleges saw their enrollments drop by between 10 and 20 percent, according to Lawrence M. Schall, president of the accrediting agency.

“[The pandemic] will accelerate the financial pressures,” Schall said. “The schools that were weak coming in are going to be weaker coming out.”

Colleges nationally have also seen enrollments decline. According to a survey of more than 9.2 million students, released Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment fell by 4 percent, driven in large part by first-year students opting not to attend college this fall. Total undergraduate and graduate enrollment is down 3 percent nationally compared to the same time last year.

Nationally, there are 16 percent fewer first-year students attending college, and the erosion is even sharper at community colleges, where first-year enrollment plunged by more than 22 percent, according to the clearinghouse.

The pandemic has hit community colleges and many of the students they serve — low-income, working parents, and Latino and Black degree-seekers — particularly hard. The public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing effect on the economy have meant job losses and additional child care responsibilities for these students and have forced many to shelve their college plans.


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The Friendly Grizzly | October 18, 2020 at 4:03 pm

How sad.

It’s strange that community college enrollments went down so much, as it would have made sense for students at 4-year colleges and universities to switch to them because of lower costs and more practical courses.

    Anonamom in reply to rfhirsch. | October 19, 2020 at 9:14 am

    This enrollment drop isn’t so much about raw costs, though, as it is about value for dollar. Most colleges and universities have switched to online learning platforms, many of them doing so very badly. The perceived value of the experience is much, much less, so many students are opting out totally.

Many CC’s (and 4 year schools to a lesser extent) serve as food pantries or also food + housing providers, as students can pay for these things with student loans and grants. For food there is the alternative of food stamps, but maybe there are eligibility limitations on food stamps. The colleges seem quite uninterested in providing transparency into their roles as food and housing providers of last resort, but if funding for this resumes, it should be clarified. I think those functions should be provided through HHS or other departments, not the education establishment where appropriate regulation is more difficult, including because of FERPA. FERPA should be for education, not a hiding place for everything else.

Remote learning makes these institutions into providers of “only” education, and so the interest is less.

Plus it’s cold, and they won’t let us party anymore.

Not surprising. New England has an over-abundance of private, pricy liberal arts colleges.

Awwwwwww…That’s really too bad…NOT