The Spring 2021 semester is seeming to be a record low for student enrollment for Fullerton College within the past decade. According to Joseph Ramirez, Fullerton College’s Interim Director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, the number of students enrolled for the current spring semester is 19,734, which is 7.2% fewer students than the previous spring semester.
During the 2020 fall semester, there were 21,792 students attending the community college. Although there had been a direct decrease in students within the 2020-2021 school year alone, the overall enrollment number had fluctuated since the coronavirus pandemic began and remote learning had been implemented.
During the start of the coronavirus pandemic during the Spring 2020 semester, Fullerton College reported a total of 20,417 enrolled students. As Covid-19 cases were still on the rise by the start of the Fall 2020 semester, Fullerton College reported a total of 21,241 enrolled students, which had shown an increase in enrollment during the pandemic.
Although the current enrollment status for Fullerton College is below their average of 20,000 students per semester, this recent year seemingly due to the coronavirus pandemic, the overall enrollment rate had been on a slow decline within the past decade.
In Fullerton College’s latest annual “Institutional Effectiveness Report” published in 2019, the community college stated, “there has been a notable decline in the number of students enrolling at Fullerton College over the last five years.”
This statement was made prior to the coronavirus pandemic before the school had switched to complete remote learning, off-campus.
Some students have admitted their struggles amidst the online learning switch, but have persisted with their school work. Current Fullerton College students, Isabelle Madrid, 19, and Joshua Sandoval, 21, resolved their stress and large workload by withdrawing from courses during the Spring 2021 semester rather than dropping out entirely.
Madrid admitted that with other life circumstances and a full class schedule she felt stressed and that she had “too much on her plate.”
“I decided to drop a couple of classes so I could continue being enrolled in the school and continue learning and doing something. Dropping out of school or all my classes seemed too drastic — I just needed less work, not none. This has helped me tremendously,” Madrid stated.
Third-year theater major Joshua Sandoval agreed. With his initial five-course schedule, dropping one class was the best option to ensure he stayed on top of his work.
“I’m pretty satisfied with my decision because my workload is just the right amount that I can handle. Having one more class definitely could have been more than bargained for. It isn’t any easier but it’s manageable now.” Sandoval said.
Eager to continue courses and strive for an associate’s degree or associate’s degree for transfer; hard work is paying off for Fullerton College students as rates for associate degree completion have been on a steady increase over the past five years.
Within the 2019 report and a current update for the 2019-2020 academic year provided by Ramirez, there has only been an increase in associate degrees awarded. According to Ramirez, the past academic year was the highest number of associate degrees awarded in Fullerton College history.
There is still concern around the overall enrollment decline for North Orange County Community Colleges. Chancellor Cheryl Marshall released a statement acknowledging the decline in enrollment and set up a plan for potential reopening for future semesters.
“We will use the remainder of the spring term to update District and campus plans for returning in larger numbers over the summer and fall” Marshall stated. “The number and mix of classes for fall will depend on student need, space availability, instructor availability and health conditions in Orange County.”