Illinois Community College Enrollment Drops Due To Pandemic, Online Courses
“It’s been tough,” Harris said. “It’s not what I’m used to.”
Illinois Community College enrollments have fallen from 2020, due to the pandemic and most are taught online.
“This spring we went down about 23%, which is a big success for us,” said Debbie King of South Suburban College.
While the same is true for colleges and universities nationwide, Illinois has been hit particularly hard, especially community colleges more than 4-year institutions. Joliet Junior College is down 14%.
“We have a lot of hands-on programs. It requires face-to-face interaction. These labs. The automotive program. The welding program. The culinary program,” said Robert Morris of Joliet Junior College.
It is also not a coincidence that the biggest drops in enrollment have occurred at colleges located in high-minority communities that have been devastated by the pandemic.
“People are just trying to move on from day to day. They don’t think about what they are going to do 6 months later in terms of education. They had to meet immediate needs first, ”King said.
Hoping to turn the tide, Illinois launched the Workforce Equality Initiative which provides grants to state community colleges which cover all expenses for students enrolling in programs where actual demand is currently the highest, ranging from hairdressing school to certified nursing assistant degrees.
Harris, a business leader, has had a tough year, but said things were improving.
“I saw a lot of people leave, but I would say I see them coming back too,” he said.
Regionally, only two community colleges saw their enrollment increase this spring: McHenry County College and Malcom X, one of Chicago’s City Colleges.
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