Enrollment at U.S. community colleges has plunged 10% from fall 2019 to fall 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic
PHOENIX — Peniella Irakoze is cold calling a list of 1,001 fellow students who didn’t return to Phoenix College this semester, checking on how they’re managing during the coronavirus pandemic.
The calls have become a regular part of her job at a community college like others across the U.S. that have experienced significant enrollment declines as students face challenges with finances, family life and virtual learning.
“I didn’t know that so many people were struggling,” said Irakoze, 20, who studies medical laboratory science and works part-time for the college. “So many students aren’t coming back.”
Nationwide, enrollment at community colleges — which offer two-year degrees and vocational training and often attract older students looking to learn new skills — dropped 10% from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.