Community colleges see enrollment drop during pandemic – NBC Connecticut

The state is offering more programs to allow people to get the training and skills they need without going to college.

Higher education is not the only option for getting a good job, and schools are feeling the impact. A new survey from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows the biggest drop in university enrollment nationwide in 50 years.

In Connecticut, undergraduate enrollment has fallen 5.3% since 2019, and community colleges are feeling the impact the most, despite often having the cheapest price and more flexibility.

“When Covid hit it certainly impacted our students, disproportionately I would say many populations, because especially at community college, we serve a minority population with significantly lower incomes,” explained Michael Rooke. , president of Northwestern Community College.

Rooke said research shows about 40% of students nationwide lost their jobs when the pandemic hit, and when those students had to scramble to find other jobs, many couldn’t afford to back to school.

“If you are a single parent with two or three jobs, which is not uncommon for a community college student, or if you are looking after family or if a family member has passed away, which is another problem that we have seen a lot. You know, college isn’t your first priority at this time, you have to take care of yourself and your family. “

Rooke said in Connecticut, community college enrollment is down 15% since 2019, which represents about 9,000 students. Even more worrying, studies show that only 13% of college dropouts return within five years. But Connecticut community colleges are trying to change that.

“Think about the long term future. I mean, I know most people want to deal with the now. But you know, there’s a significant difference in lifetime earnings for someone with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree versus someone who doesn’t have a college degree. And your ability to recover from the Covid pandemic will be greatly facilitated by going to college, ” Rooke said.

The Connecticut State College and University System tries to encourage people to return to college or enroll for the first time. There are free apps, one registration event per day, and even free courses under the Advancing Connecticut Pledge Act (PACT).

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