Enrollment is down across the board – What can you tell your students who are not thinking about College due to COVID-19?

Enrollment is down across the board at traditional Colleges (4% according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center) with Freshman enrollment particularly lower year-over-year (19%). Junior/Community Colleges saw a drop of 23% this Fall in first time student enrollment. The primary reason is COVID-19 and the uncertainty it caused last year’s crop of high school seniors. Some students have opted to stay closer to home rather than enroll out-of-state, while others have decided to take a break from education altogether. International students, who have become a key part of many institution’s enrollment strategies in recent years, have faced visa delays, travel bans, and immigration restrictions.

There is some good news on the horizon though. Several different companies have reported very positive results in their vaccine trials and many experts are saying we could begin getting back to normal around May-June 2021. Many of your students live in the now though and aren’t planning ahead. Waiting until May to decide which College (if any) they want to attend next year could be disastrous as many spots could be filled.

Here are some tips you can share with them to get them motivated:

  • Start planning now: Many Colleges are offering even better financial aid packages to entice students. The earlier they apply the higher chance they have of getting some of those dollars.
  • College still pays off: Studies have shown over a lifetime College graduates continue to earn substantially more than non-College graduates. Hammer this point home to them.
  • Expand your career options: Having a college degree opens doors that would otherwise be closed. Ninety-nine percent of jobs created since the Great Recession have gone to workers with at least some college education, according to a 2016 report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
  • College is fun: The friendships they make will last a lifetime and there are many fun activities they can participate in (Greek life, extracurricular clubs, intramural sports, etc.)

Many of your students may be in a rut due to COVID-19 and the non-traditional senior year they are having to go through this year. Keep them pumped up and looking towards their future. Hopefully, if the experts are right, at this time next year it will be a distant memory and they will be enjoying their first year at their institution of choice!