Community colleges across US see significant decline in enrollment

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 6:39 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The community college enrollment crash caused by the COVID pandemic continues into the Fall 2022 semester.

In Michigan, there are 31 community colleges. Of those 31 schools, the 7th largest community college is Lansing Community College with more than 11,000 students currently enrolled -- a 6% decrease from last year. Jackson College is the 13th largest college with more 4,900 students enrolled -- a 4% decrease from last year.

More and more students are deciding not to enroll in community colleges across the country, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. To get enrollment numbers back up, colleges are making career-focused adjustments to their curriculum. Lansing Community College is focusing on hands-on training for a new generation of workers.

“Here at LCC we’re about six and a half percent down for the fall. But that’s about 600 or so students. And when unemployment is low, traditionally enrollment is low at community colleges,” said Lansing Community College president Steve Robinson.

In Mid-Michigan, community colleges are responding to the downward trend in enrollment with training courses that support in-demand skills and trades like electricians, plumbers, and medical experts. LCC will offer more in-person classes than last year.

“So there are things for them to do in the classroom – a lot of hands-on learning. That’s what’s happening in our programs like fire, and EMT, police, nursing, and applied technology at West Campus. So we see a lot more students coming to campus for their education,” said Robinson.

Students like Katlyn Dennis, who is a nursing major and choose to be on-campus for one reason.

“You learn better and when you go online it’s harder to learn by yourself,” said Dennis.

Some students at LCC told News 10, if online learning were the only option, they’d more than likely drop out due to a lack of interaction.

“You get the lab models compared to just being online and they just show you videos of it. So you get to actually touch them and actually at the Arts and Science Building they have a whole body, lab thing up on the 4th floor so you can learn that way too,” said Dennis.

News 10 also spoke with Jackson College. They still have not rebounded to where they were before the pandemic. Their enrollment numbers are slowly increasing -- but still below 5,000 students.

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