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Enrollment rates are down for undergraduate students in the United States, especially among the key demographic of freshmen.
A study done by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that the amount of new enrollments by first-year students is down by 16 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
According to the Wall Street Journal, community colleges have been particularly hard hit by this decline, with 23 percent less first-time students signing up on average. Total enrollment at community colleges is down by almost 10 percent this year compared to last year.
Doug Shapiro, the Research center’s executive director said an an interview that the data for this year is especially “staggering” considering that during the economic crisis of 2008-2009, college enrollment increased. “I fear that many of those students will never get back,” said Shapiro.
Online schools are up 26.3 percent in enrollment across the board this year compared to last year in the key 21 to 24-year-old demographic, and experienced an increase of 4.3 percent in enrollment across the board.
Possible reasons cited for the dramatic drop in enrollment have to do with most or all of the classes being virtual due to the pandemic.
As political tension rises, there have been many incidents making the college experience less desirable, especially for new students.
Some universities are trying to incentivize frequent testing for the novel coronavirus, while others have made it mandatory. Also, many universities are undertaking what critics see are overly draconian measures for social distancing, above and beyond the regulations of their respective jurisdictions.
Punishments have been as severe as suspension and the voiding of an entire semester, and are often discriminately applied.