higher education enrollment dropping

College Enrollment is Dropping: Here Are a Few Observations I’ve Made Talking to Recent High School Graduates

Enrollment in higher education is dropping, here are a few observations I've made from recent high school graduates I know.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment year over year fell by 3.6 percent in fall 2020 and by 3.1 percent in fall 2021. Total undergraduate enrollment declined 6.6 percent from fall 2019 to fall 2021, representing a loss of just over a million students.

In fall 2020, 20.7 percent fewer students than in 2019 enrolled directly in college from high school, and more than one in four students enrolled in college in 2019 did not return the following fall, the highest rate since 2012. As in so many spheres of life, COVID is having an accelerated impact on already concerning trends. For higher education, these sober statistics are acute signals of a decade-long enrollment decline of 13 percent. And with the number of high school graduates projected to decrease from 2027 through 2037, college enrollment challenges have just begun.

Source: The enrollment changes colleges are feeling are much more than COVID-19

Many College Students Have Found Their Grades a Casualty of COVID Protocols

I know many students — now former college students who were complete casualties of COVID – not from an illness standpoint but from an education standpoint. Here are several issues I've seen and heard of from more than one student.

Issue #1: Interrupted attendance due to quarantines without accommodations when students got sick.

For example, this past fall some students got sick and (understandably) were banned from attending classes.

Issue #2: No Adjustments Made When Students Did Get Sick

Yet, no communication was given to professors who did not extend deadlines or offer extra assistance to those who were sick and could not come to class. Instead, many professors acted as if pre-covid rules applied and kids who didn't come to class were “slackers.”

Kids who actually got sick this past fall found GPAs casualties of their illness even though they physically recovered. I know this from more than one student.

Issue #3: Sick professors without stand-ins

Additionally, I know of professors who got sick were not only hard to reach but had no stand-ins resulting in grades being entered late and students left scratching their heads. Sometimes face to face instructors had not communicated with professors who were technically supervising the class.

Issue #4: Delay in materials due to shipping delays

Shipping delays meant students with bound books often didn't receive them until after the semester started along with supplies needed for technology courses like hard drives and other equipment.

In The End We All Lost

As the article says, many colleges have had a self-congratulatory approach. Yet many students know the truth — online learning was a farce in many cases. Furthermore, the return to face-to-face learning was not well executed by many leaving students (and parents)wondering how higher education delivered anything but a big bill and bigger heartache.

As a teacher, I know many kids fit in this category and higher education needs to educate itself on how it really handled students. Accountability is coming and it may not be pleasant.

We can congratulate ourselves all we want, but if there isn't enough income to pay the bills for the outcome we're delivering, layoffs will eventually come.

As we face change, we can either force ourselves to face the reality of what could happen and adjust ourselves or we can pretend right into oblivion.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere