With school moving to a remote learning environment, Fullerton College has seen a decrease in the number of students enrolled in the Fall 2020 semester.
According to Joseph Ramirez, Fullerton College’s interim director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, the school has a total of 21,792 students taking classes this current fall semester.
If we compare this to the same time last year, there is a noticeable change. According to Ramirez, Fullerton College had 23,059 students enrolled in classes. This means that there was a decrease of about 5.5% or 1,267 students.
It’s important to note that these are current point-in-time comparisons and the numbers may change when we get the final enrollment number data at the end of the semester and compare them to the end of the Fall 2019 semester.
Since Fullerton College and other community colleges in general constantly see fluctuations in enrollment numbers, this data may not seem like something that stands out at first, but it must be viewed with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in mind.
According to Ramirez, when there is an increase in unemployment, community colleges usually see an increase in enrollment. During an interview with Jessica Langlois, a journalism professor at Fullerton College, Ramirez commented on how this semester has provided a new context in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has the pandemic caused an increase in unemployment, but it also caused campuses to close and classes to be almost completely online.
“Going into the pandemic we saw there was an immediate and significant increase in unemployment, community colleges across the state have been anticipating an increase in community college enrollment. However, one of the main differences is those face-to-face courses are not available and so delivering instruction completely online, having campuses closed, is an entirely new context that has not been seen before,” said Ramirez.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the 2001 recession unemployment rates were up 5.6% from the previous year. 2007 through the 2009 recession saw an unemployment rate of 5% at the end of 2007 and increased at a peak of 10% and the end of 2009.
So how did enrollment numbers look during years that saw a rise in unemployment? While looking at the enrollment numbers for the fall semesters at Fullerton College, there is a noticeable increase in enrollment during these recessions.
According to the data mart website, during the fall semester of the year 2000, Fullerton College saw a total enrollment of 20,287. The following fall semester in 2001, the enrollment increased to 21,239; an increase of about 952.
While looking at the data for the semesters during the 2007 through 2009 recessions, there is another interesting trend. The fall semesters of each year during that recession kept increasing from the previous year. During the fall semester of 2006, the year before the beginning of the recession, the enrollment was at a total of 20,142. Then the following year, the fall semester of 2007 saw enrollment increase to 21,079. The fall semester of 2008 increased again to 22,014 and finally, fall of 2009 increased to 22,294.
Fullerton College has implemented remote learning since March of 2020. Remote learning will continue through the Spring 2020 semester.