Community colleges are seeing less and less enrollment, despite the fact that they’re cheaper than ever.
According to a survey of schools run by the Seattle Times, the number of students enrolled in community colleges has fallen by over a third since 2010, a difference of over 2.6 million people. Universities are seeing a drop too, but not nearly so steep. A big part of the difference is age. Students 17-21, the students who went to college or university immediately after high school, are still much the same in number. But older students are fewer and fewer, and the difference is even more stark among students of color.
“Life gets in the way,” said Gee Scott, co-host of The Gee and Ursula Show. “I think that today, it is harder than it was 20, 30 years ago. And the reason why that is, is because of all of the topics we talk about on a daily basis, which is housing affordability, wages, etc. So you can say, ‘I’m going to go ahead and go to community college by day and then get that part-time job at night.’ Well, we all know that a part-time job is not enough for you to be able to pay for a place by yourself, so you’re going to have to depend either on living with your parents or living with roommates.”
“Two-year community colleges have the worst completion rates of any kind of universities and colleges, only slightly more than 40% finish within six years, and nearly half of the students drop out within a year,” said Ursula Reutin, co-host of the show, in response to the report.
Tuition and fees for community college are currently around a third of what they cost at a state university, and a tenth of what private college costs. They’re a robust option for continuing education, and many even offer bachelors degrees in fields like nursing and business, as well as trade education. But schools are closing under the loss of enrollment, and those opportunities are being lost.