Californian colleges see enrolment surge during pandemic

Vincent Aguayo wasn’t sure he wanted to attend college. At 18 he was already working in construction, making good money putting up drywall, and he was on a path to becoming a supervisor with health benefits. But then the pandemic hit, and a lot of the people working the jobs to which Aguayo aspired got laid off, writes Nina Agrawal for Los Angeles Times.

This fall, Aguayo enrolled at California State University, Sacramento, one of thousands of students who pushed the Cal State system to record high enrolment, despite predictions that the pandemic and shift to virtual learning would prompt students to leave in droves. The 23 campuses of the university collectively enrolled 485,549 students in the fall 2020, about a 0.75% increase over last fall.

A number of factors likely contributed to the Cal State system’s counterintuitive numbers, university officials and other experts said. The state universities’ bold decision last spring to decide to keep students online in the fall provided certainty during the early tumultuous months of the pandemic. The university’s years-long initiative to increase graduation rates has built momentum that students did not want to stop. And the relative affordability of the university – and a push for more financial aid during the pandemic – also helped to keep students enrolled.
Full report on the Los Angeles Times site