By Samantha Iniguez
The COVID-19 pandemic has made online education, however temporary it may be, the norm and it could pose a threat to college enrollment.
With the change to online learning students have been struggling to adjust. A survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed asked future and current college students about the effect COVID-19 has had on their education. The results revealed that 63% of college students believe online instruction is worse than in person learning.
An article in LAist, an online publication published by the Southern California Public Radio, said, “Educators say the goal is to continue instruction, not necessarily turn faculty into model distance educators. But some student reactions suggest colleges’ efforts may not be enough to counter the impact of the current crisis.”
Glendale community college Professor, Roger Bowerman told LAist most of the professors still did not feel confident after a week long training. Professors at Glendale Community College only had two days to train on Canvas. “Half of them said we need more time. And about 15% said they did not even think they would be ready at the end of the week,” Bowerman said.
Los Angeles Community College Districts Vice President of Academic Affairs, Ruben Arenas said the Los Angeles Community College District is doing considerably better than the Inside Higher ed survey reflects. He said, prior to moving online LACCD professors had 2 weeks of training and continue to train. Professors who felt they were not up to par with online teaching were allowed to take the semester off to continue training.
The Inside Higher ed survey concluded that “1 in 4 students rate the quality of their school’s COVID-19 communications fair or poor.” It also found that students rate their college’s communication more positive than the overall job of their school.
In contrast to this, the LACCD conducted a survey on their students and reported that 85% of students said they feel informed about the changes made at their school.
The Inside Higher Ed results showed that 67% of students said their opinion of their current school has gotten worse since the pandemic.
When students were surveyed about their future plans to return to their current college for the next semester 62% replied highly likely to return 24% likely to return, 7% too soon to say, 4% and 3% highly unlikely.
“While most aren’t yet considering alternatives for their future education, that will likely change as time goes on and financial uncertainty continues to grow,” wrote Inside Higher Edd.
Uncertainty in next semester enrollment is not only affecting current college students, high school seniors are also feeling the effect of COVID-19 and taking the constant change into consideration.
Minorities are facing financial uncertainty affecting their decision on whether to go to college in the fall. “Forty-one percent of minority high school seniors say it’s likely they won’t go to college at all in the fall or “it’s too soon to say.”
Inside Higher ed wrote that minorities in college are facing similar uncertainty “Minority students who are in college are also feeling the impact of COVID-19 and related matters more than white students. Thirty-two percent of minority students and 22 percent of white college students said it was unlikely they will return to their college this fall or “It’s too soon to say.” Two-thirds of minority students (64%) said their plans were affected by COVID-19, compared to 44% of white students.”
In regards to the financial need of students, Arenas said the district is doing all in its power to continue to aid students in any way possible. The district has awarded scholarships for equipment, lent out chromebooks, forgiven library fees and holds on accounts due to equipment not being returned because of the circumstances. He said that laccd will continue to aid its students in any way possible if and when funds become available.
Elizabeth Johnson, chairperson of SimpsonScarborough a higher education research and marketing company told Inside Higher ed, when considering many factors surveyors predicted a decrease in student enrollment for the upcoming fall semester..
Arenas said under the circumstances we can expect the return of two types of students to community colleges. One being UC/CSU students who are under financial strain looking to take general education classes at a community college and people out of work who want to use this time to continue their degree or earn a new one. Current students should prepare for the impact on general education classes and look to enroll as soon as they can. Summer classes are filling fast and fall is expected to be the same if not worse.
“It is important for students to constantly check their LACCD email because information is changing quickly and keepinging up with the changes being made can help assist students make decisions in their best interest,” Arenas said.