OCC fall enrollment rates decline

OCC was not alone in a fall enrollment dip as community colleges across California experienced downward trends.

Enrollment numbers are down at Orange Coast College this fall semester like many other community colleges in the state. 

According to OCC's Dean of Planning, Research and Institutional Effectiveness Sheri Sterner, the number of unique students enrolled at OCC this fall is 17,370. This is down 5.5% compared to last fall’s data

The main reason for the decline at OCC is the ongoing pandemic. 

According to EdSource, the 116 community colleges all across California have been dealing with the damage the pandemic has done to students. Some issues students have faced during the pandemic include stress, anxiety and depression

However, the pandemic is only part of the enrollment story. Community colleges in California rely heavily on high school graduates and affordable education options to attend local community colleges. 

According to the California Department of Education, graduation rates are slightly down in high schools in California. This can be attributed to the pandemic. With community colleges in California relying on local high school graduates, this has a direct effect on enrollment rates. 

“High school graduation rates in our service area play a huge role in our enrollment numbers,” Sterner said. 

The California state government is hoping that Governor Gavin Newsom’s higher education budget bill will help make college more affordable and provide more incentive for students not to  pass on their education. 

Sterner also pointed out that when the economy is doing well there is less drive for people to  pursue education compared to when the economy is struggling and there are fewer jobs available. 

“There are a lot of factors that we look into when it comes to the enrollment data,” Sterner said regarding why OCC’s enrollment rates have declined steadily over the last few semesters. “Every semester presents new opportunities and challenges for the number of students at our school.”

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