A Drop In Enrollment At Community Colleges Due To COVID

Enrollment at community colleges in Illinois declined during the pandemic.

Statistics from the Illinois Community College Board show spring enrollment at the state’s 48 schools dropped by 14.2%.

Jerry Corcoran, president of Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, said community colleges are trying to weather the storm.

“Enrollments are down, doing everything we can with a nice blend of face-to-face and online, and doing what we can to be accommodating for those who want to get the vaccines,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said his school’s enrollment was down just over 11% this spring compared to last.

It is a similar story at Heartland Community College in Normal.

“We have been running anywhere between 9% and 10% down this year, which we don’t like to see because it means there are still people that are out there that needing the support and help from us,” President Keith Cornille said. “Our numbers for the fall are looking better.”

Stephanie Stuart, vice president of Communications and External Affairs at Parkland College in Champaign, said they saw a 14% decline in enrollment in the fall, and close to that this spring.

“We certainly have seen a decline in our enrollment at Parkland,” Stuart said. “It has been part of a 10-year trend of a decline but we think that it has been exacerbated a bit due to the pandemic.”

In an effort to attract potential students, Stuart said Parkland College is using several methods including outreach programs.

“We are trying to think of different strategies to really reach out to community members that really could benefit from training and education,” Stuart said. “We are engaged across the campus in those efforts.”

Most schools relied on online learning and hybrid formats his past year, but many plan to offer more in-person instruction in the fall.

“We are moving to a 60/40 kind of a split, with 60% of our classes will be face-to-face type of environment and about 40% will be either some form of hybrid or online,” Cornille said. “Prior to the pandemic, we were at probably a 72/28 split, so we have increased a bit more with online, but we saw that it was kind of a trend of where things were going anyway.”