Freshman enrollment at colleges, universities down nationwide

U.S.

MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Colleges and universities around the nation are experiencing record low freshmen enrollment numbers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Freshmen enrollment at colleges and universities nationwide is down 16% from last year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Among the hundreds of thousands of teenagers who postponed college is 18-year-old Christina Downing.

Downing lives north of Atlanta and planned to go to college in Texas. But then the pandemic got in the way.

“To pay that much money to be out of state and do online classes. The original plan was just to come home and do online and we thought about it and said lets take a year and grow independently,” said Downing.

Her mother agreed with her decision.

“I did not want to have to pay for school for it to be online. I don’t think the education is the same,” Sandra Downing said.

Doug Shapiro with National Student Clearinghouse Research Center said he was surprised by the freshmen numbers nationwide.

“The concern about the freshmen is really dramatic. There are now hundreds of thousands of freshmen across the country who did not show up for college at all this fall compared to last year,” Shapiro said.

But what Shapiro said is most surprising is what is happening at community colleges.

During past economic recessions, Shapiro says enrollment at community colleges has typically gone up because unemployed people go back to school.

But the opposite is happening now.

Community colleges have experienced a 22.7% drop in freshmen enrollment, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

“Many community college students may have particular challenges with online learning because they don’t have good internet access or a device to study on,” explained Shapiro.

As for Christina Downing, she feels like she made the right decision waiting a year to go to college.

In the interim, she is working two jobs and continuing her cheerleading career.

“A lot of my friends are going to college and partying and activities with sororities. It looks super fun. I don’t think I’m missing out on anything. I can just do that next year,” she said.

Experts say a concern is the financial implications of the drop in enrollment. Tuition is a major source of revenue for colleges and universities and the drop in enrollment could lead to layoffs.

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