Newly released data shows the continued decline of students enrolling at Fullerton College and the degree to which spring semester on-campus class plans were stymied by the COVID-19 omicron variant surge.

In reaction to the surge, college officials moved many courses online, just days before the beginning of the spring term.

The numbers from college administrators show that in-person or hybrid course sections were set to be about half of the total offerings. That number is now down to approximately 38%.

Some classes are set to return in person February 7, while others have transitioned online or onto Zoom for the entire semester.

The Information in this graph is from the FC Office of Institutional Research and Planning and California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Data Mart. Image credit: Ryan Billings and Nicole Melanie Freerks

While some in-person courses may quickly return, getting more students enrolled is a longer-term problem for the college. Enrollment at FC peaked at approximately 25,400 total students in fall 2014 and has been in an overall decline since.

This loss in enrollment has continued during, and been exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic. By fall 2021, the overall headcount was down to about 18,700.

Another key measure of enrollment, the number of full-time equivalent students, is down 20% from this time last year. With funding for the college partially based on enrollment, in the long term this can threaten the classes and programs it is able to offer students.

These enrollment trends mirror those happening nationally in higher education, with a report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showing a 6.6% decline in undergraduate enrollment between the fall terms in 2019 and 2021 — about a million fewer undergraduate college students during the pandemic period.

Doug Shapiro, executive director of the center, told CNN that the drop was also part of a larger trend, with enrollments prior to the pandemic “dipping 1% to 1.5% per year.”

Shapiro spoke of the importance of these numbers adding, “It’s not true for everyone, but for most people if you don’t go to college, you’re cutting off a lot of potential, future earnings and then job security.”



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Ryan Billings (He/Him) is an aspiring writer from Westminster, CA.