By Luis Castilla & Jonathan Bermudez
Enrollment is down across all nine Los Angeles Community College District schools. With the exception of Los Angeles City College, all LACCD colleges are experiencing a 10% decrease, at least, in enrollment when comparing Fall 2020 to Fall 2019.
LACCD chancellor Francisco Rodriguez said in a statement released Sept. 8 that colleges across the country reported drops in enrollment between 5% and 30%.
“In addition, in a recent survey of California Community Colleges, 85% reported lower enrollment in Fall 2020 compared to Fall 2019 by an average of 12%,” Rodriguez said. Lower enrollment rates are not unique to LACC.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all academic institutions in many factors. “Across the board we are seeing that folks are taking fewer classes,” Vice President of Academic affairs Ruben Arenas said.
He said that it is not necessarily freshman or returning students that are taking fewer classes, just students in general. He is trying to make the website easier for students to navigate through to enroll in classes or to talk to a counselor.
“I had a meeting with my division about a week and a half ago where we discussed really standardizing a number of things so, the chat services that we offer to students, phone numbers through google voice that students and faculty can call to reach a person immediately, and then just on the website configuring it any thoughtful way,” Arenas said. The school is trying to launch a chat hub that would keep all the relevant information and phone information into one place for students to be able to look through conveniently. Arenas plans to launch the chat hub within two weeks or so.
College campuses used to be a hub for students who didn’t have at-home internet, as they had access to libraries with computers and WiFi.
Now, as the world struggles with a pandemic, students are unable to be on campus for their own safety and the safety of others.
LACCD gave away thousands of laptops to aid students’ remote learning experience when the pandemic began. However, the district did not account for whether or not students had internet access at home.
LA County Library has 84 locations and they are all closed because of the pandemic. Ten of those locations currently offer a laptop and hotspot kit loan for three weeks. But having internet access and a computer is not the only requisite for a successful at-home learning experience. There are distractions at home.
Many students had to choose between school and work and others lack the motivation to continue their schooling in what seems like a never-ending Zoom nightmare.
Arenas, however, doesn’t believe that students have lost interest in school since it has gone online and believe it’s a good thing.
“I think although students feel that moving fully online does have its drawbacks, there’s also a lot of advantages to it. We’re seeing many students trying to go through and complete their degrees now that they are not bound by day and time and location restrictions,” he said.
Arenas said he think we’re going to see a lot of folks complete their degrees and certificates this year.