Enrollment Drops At Arizona Community Colleges During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - 5:07pm
Updated: Wednesday, December 2, 2020 - 12:32pm

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Community colleges around Arizona have seen drops in enrollment this fall semester. 

Enrollment at the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college systems in the nation, is down by about 15% compared to last fall. Others such as Mohave Community College are also experiencing enrollment declines.

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Mohave Community College spokesman James Jarman says enrollment there also fell by about 15% compared to previous years. 

“Many of our students are balancing work, family and education and due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, they said they have to put a pause on their higher education goals so they can focus on family and or work," he said. 

Students at Central Arizona College in Pinal County, which has been offering mostly remote classes since the pandemic began, are facing similar challenges. Sherrie Licon, the college’s executive director of enrollment services, has also heard students are discouraged by the change in how classes are offered.    

Mohave Community College Havasu Campus
Mohave Community College
Mohave Community College, like others in Arizona and nationwide, has experience an enrollment decline this fall semester compared to previous years. MCC expects this decline may continue into the spring semester.

“I think everyone was really hoping that we could resume face to face classes," Licon said. " We didn’t really expect for the pandemic to last as long as it has.” 

College communities nationwide are experiencing an enrollment decline of about 10%, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Early student enrollment numbers for Mohave Community College's spring semester were looking encouraging in October when COVID-19 cases were trending down in Mohave County. 

“But as the case loads have increased in the county, our enrollment has started to drop," he said. 

Central Arizona College expects see similar enrollment declines into the spring semester, but Vice President for Student Services Jenni Cardenas is hoping to ensure students that while college operations look different, the college is still providing similar, and in some cases, even better services than it has in the past. This includes expand the college's live, online instruction known as synchronous online courses. The college is also hoping to start mobile food pantries, Licon said. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to Maricopa County Community College District.

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