Colleges and universities worldwide are feeling the impact of COVID-19, and the U.S. is not an exception. Over the past few months, every industry, whether educational or entertainment, is facing the pandemic. As a result, many college students-to-be have dropped their plan of studies this year or are rethinking about their study locations.
Amid the economically uncertain period, community colleges in the U.S. have seen a high rise in the number of enrollments this year. Numerous characteristics of Community Colleges have made them the ample choice of students amidst the pandemic. The fee structure of community colleges heavily influences many parents and students. These colleges are relatively inexpensive compared to private colleges.
According to the Community College Review, the average community college student pays just $3,400 a year as tuition fees. On the other hand, the average annual tuition fees at a private college are nearly $37,000. More than 120 private colleges charge tuition fees exceeding $50,000 per year, and only about 60 charges less than $20,000. The low tuition fees seem attractive to low-income families who are more likely to qualify for local, state, and federal grant aid.
Amid the pandemic, this is the case for low-income families and families with steady and good annual incomes. In a report on How American Pays for College- 2020, Sallie Mae has shown that 4 out of 5 families eliminated schools due to hefty tuition fees. Apart from this, 38% of the family are likely to make their final decision based on their financial condition. Thousands of Americans are laid off, furloughed, or seen a decrease in their pay or working hours during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey, more than 52% of families have faced lower pay, laid off or furloughed from work. Currently, the U.S. but the entire world is facing the highest unemployment rates, which may take years to recover.
Every day, a larger percentage of individuals are adding in the number of economically disadvantaged people. Therefore, low-cost higher education is extremely important and necessary more than before. Most of the community colleges are designed explicitly for community students. While attending colleges, students can stay in their homes’ safety and are not required to travel long distances. Also, having the advantage of multiple campuses, students can select the preferred location closest to their home. It will help students who don’t want to live in those crowded dormitories due to coronavirus crises.
In the U.S., most community colleges have open admissions, and some of them are evaluation applications. The education system has not announced any official deadline for applying for admission yet. When the prospective students are enrolled in the college, and all the tests are done, they will commence the semester. However, in certain instances, it will be too late to apply for admission if the specific schools have filled all the spots for the coming semester. As long as community colleges are concerned, this case does not apply, as they can adapt to more incoming students than normal.
Since the regular admission deadlines are long passed, these two admission guidelines are helpful during the coronavirus pandemic. The financial distress has been for many people in late April, which was too late to decide admissions. On the other hand, the schools which are rolling admission are still accepting applications for admission. Furthermore, most of the schools with open admissions criteria guarantee admission. This can save students time to apply in more than one college.
It is predicted that community colleges are likely to conduct virtual classes for students until the fall semester. Therefore, community colleges in the U.S. are bracing themselves for the fall semester for experiencing higher numbers of admissions. The current public health crisis may shift the demographic division among students at community colleges to include more students from more prosperous family backgrounds. By doing this, the completion rate will increase in the upcoming fall.
The regional job fluctuations and changing enrollment dynamics are such things that community colleges can adapt quickly. The local businesses can benefit from community colleges as they fit best in their environment. In fall 2019, about 46% of those who began post-graduation from community colleges in the U.S. were serving since then in the local companies. Before transferring to the university or college for a four-year course, Community colleges have always been touted for the students in education. Most of the colleges have advisers too for counseling students who prefer to transfer for four-year programs.
Almost every state has the policy to transfer students’ credit scores in their education to enroll for juniors or four-year degrees. Apart from this, some colleges have transfer agreements, too, with surrounding colleges offering four-year programs. If students can maintain the specified GPA and credit score, they can get an easy transfer. However, do you think it is fair for the students who start their studies from those schools to compare with those who got in because of community colleges?
In 2010, According to research conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 42% of students who transfer from a two-year to a four-year university ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in the community college within six years. On the other hand, according to the statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, within six years, about 60% of students began higher education at public four-year school graduation.
Students with low income get enrolled in community colleges only as their fee structures are affordable for them. About 51% of students in the U.S were enrolled in the community college in 2016 due to the lowest socioeconomic status. And around 18% of other students who got enrolled were from elite backgrounds.
The landscape of higher education is going to change dramatically in the upcoming months. Therefore, it is possible to make some predictions regarding the historical and current data. In the end, time will unveil the exact impact of COVID-19 on the education system and people who are related to it.