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Community colleges see marked decline in enrollment; grad schools increase

By
Kyle Barnett
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released its annual enrollment report showing spring enrollment for all students declined by 3.5% from 17.5 million to 16.9 million. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released its annual enrollment report showing spring enrollment for all students declined by 3.5% from 17.5 million to 16.9 million. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

June 10 (UPI) -- Spring college enrollment numbers were down across the board for undergraduates but nowhere so much as community colleges.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released its annual enrollment report showing spring enrollment for all students declined by 3.5% from 17.5 million to 16.9 million.

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"If you didn't already have a degree, you are much more likely to be working in low-wage jobs. Front-line workers are much more likely to be out of work and to be much more stressed financially during the recession and the pandemic," Doug Shapiro executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center said. "Those are the students particularly that we see disappearing from community colleges, especially this year."

Shapiro said, in the past, out-of-work older adults would take more community college, but that has not happened during the pandemic.

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Enrollment for traditional undergraduates aged 18 to 24 decreased by 4.9%.

Community college enrollment was hardest hit, declining 9.5% in Spring 2021 largely due to pandemic conditions.

Of the total 727,000 students 476,000 were attending community colleges.

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California saw the most pronounced decline in enrollment of any state, losing 123,000 students, or 3.5%.

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"California is doing worse than the national averages by 1 or 2 percentage points in terms of the declines this spring compared with last," Shapiro said.

Not everyone was a loser though -- undergraduate institutions in New Hampshire, Utah, West Virginia, Nebraska, Virginia, Idaho and Maryland bucked the trend and saw overall enrollment increases.

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The dropout rates was much more pronounced among men. Across the country men 400,000 men dropped out in comparison to 203,000 females.

The only demographic to see an en enrollment increase were females attending four public institutions.

Visual & Performing Arts saw the steepest enrollment decrease at 18.1% while computer sciences and psychology saw gains of 3 and 4.8%.

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