New Report Reveals Nine California Community Colleges Saw Enrollment Increases and Smaller Enrollment Losses Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
New Report, Illuminating Innovations, reveals that while California Community Colleges experienced an overall 19% decline in student enrollment during the pandemic, several colleges defied this trend and carried out strategies to support student enrollment
Los Angeles, CA – Tomorrow, December 8th, the Campaign for College Opportunity will release Illuminating Innovations: Protecting Student Enrollment at California Community Colleges Amid a Pandemic. This report provides a campus-by-campus analysis of enrollment changes from Fall 2019 to Fall 2021 and finds that overall enrollment declined 19% at the California Community Colleges, with wide differences by campus and across racial groups. In interviews with education leaders across nine California Community College campuses, the report also highlights efforts and strategies employed by campuses where enrollment among Black and Latinx students over this period increased or only slightly decreased.
“The COVID-19 pandemic produced many challenges for colleges and their students. It also exposed the very serious racial and economic inequalities that persist in education for underserved communities and highlighted the continued strength and value of a college degree as professional workers were able to transition to work from home experiences, in fact unemployment for college graduates was half that of workers with only a high school diploma,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. “If we want California to prosper, we need to ensure that Californians can enroll and succeed in college. We applaud the herculean efforts across our community colleges to respond to a global health crisis and the innovative strategies that prioritizes student enrollment and success.”
Nationally, community college enrollment dropped by 15% from Fall 2019 to Fall 2021. However, in California community college enrollment dropped by 19% with greater decline among men than women in every racial and ethnic category. Further, enrollment declines for American Indian/ Alaska Native (AIAN) students was 25%, Black students (20%), AANHPI (20%). Enrollment for Latino men dropped 22% and for Latina women 15%.
Despite these trends, nine California Community Colleges saw enrollment increases or smaller enrollment declines, including:
Barstow Community College
Clovis Community College
Cosumnes River College
West Hills College Coalinga
Berkeley City College
College of the Sequoias
Folsom Lake College
San Diego Miramar College
These nine colleges used various practices to maintain or increase college enrollment rates. The colleges emphasized expanding outreach and marketing, improving and expanding student services, and changing course schedules, curriculum, programs, and institutional policies to better meet student needs and demands.
To support these efforts, the colleges are infusing these activities with four cross-cutting strategies:
- Focusing on equity
- Upgrading technology and increasing use of data
- Increasing collaboration and partnerships
- Developing supportive leadership and campus culture
These college campuses show that understanding student needs and challenges and innovating strategies can enable students to enroll in college and succeed in their courses, even amid a global pandemic.Californians with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $2.8 million over a lifetime. Meanwhile, the earning of a person with only a high diploma would be $1.4 million. Further, increased educational attainment has important implications for the state, as a more educated population – with higher earnings – generates higher tax revenues while also decreasing needed spending on healthcare, social services, and incarceration.