COVID-19 pandemic impacts enrollment numbers for Central California colleges

As colleges prepare for the upcoming fall semester, administrators say the coronavirus pandemic has a significant impact on enrollment numbers.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As colleges prepare for the upcoming fall semester, administrators say the coronavirus pandemic has a significant impact on enrollment numbers.

There's no question that COVID-19 is impacting students of all ages. Jennifer Blackman is a Fresno City College student that made the choice to return to school last year.

"I'm going to be 50 in October," Blackman said. "I've started and stopped college for years."

But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the switch to an online format was challenging for her.

"I ended up dropping my history and (political science) classes when COVID hit because I saw my grades just dropping significantly," added Blackman.

Now she's still not sure if she's going to take any classes at Fresno City this fall.

"I'm still on the fence if I'm going to drop them before the semester starts or if I'm going to attempt to take them, said Blackman.

She's not alone. Fresno City College says their fall enrollment numbers are lower than normal, and students are delaying registering for classes.

"We're about 21 percent below our normal place," said Fresno City College Vice President of Instruction, Don Lopez. "I think the delay has to do with whether or not we're going to do everything in the online environment or if we're going to allow students to come back."
Reedley, Madera and Oakhurst Community College Enrollment numbers are also down this fall.

Reedley College says their enrollment is down 41% from last year while Madera and Oakhurst Community College Centers are down 45%. Merced College says the pandemic has given them a slower start to enrollment as well.

One school that's seeing an uptick, though, is Fresno State.

"We're speculating that it's our local students who in the past we would lose to UC Merced or UCLA," said Fresno State Associate Vice President Enrollment Manager, Malisa Lee. "A lot of them are choosing to stay locally."

Nearly 4,200 new freshmen have registered for fall compared to 3,700 last year.

"We're having a lot of students choose because of COVID-19, (they) want to stay near home," added Lee.

The number of transfer students is up as well. More than 3,140 transfer students have accepted their admission to Fresno State, compared to 2,360 last year.

Returning students are no exception; 15,483 students plan to return compared to 15,335 last year.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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