BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Bakersfield College felt the impact of the pandemic just like every other institution but a look at the numbers of enrollment shows that even though there was a decline from 2019 to 2021 the school has faired better than most community colleges statewide.
Before the pandemic, Bakersfield College was experiencing an ongoing growing trend, seeing a major spike in enrollment from 36,990 students enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year to 38,519 students for the 2019-2020 school year.
“Spring 2020, finished it out strong. Our summer of 2020, we actually had our largest summer ever,” said Billie Jo Rice, vice president of instruction at Bakersfield College.
But in 2020 community colleges across the state began to see a collapse in enrollment rates with officials from the California Community Colleges Chancellors Office saying in a memo that the fall 2021 headcount was down 7 percent from 2020 and 20 percent from 2019.
“Going into fall 2020, we saw the decline. Keeping in mind that our high school seniors were uncertain about whether to enroll. I think they were trying to wait out the pandemic,” said Rice.
While BC was impacted its total headcount for the 2020-21 school year was not far off from pre-pandemic levels. In fact, enrollment from last year dropped less than one percent.
“We actually ended our year for the last 2 years in a growth mode.”
Now the school is already on track to surpass enrollment numbers from last year.
“Seeing that resurgence, our first-time student headcount is at an overall high, we are up 59%,” added Rice.
And while the school is beginning to offer more and more in-person courses it looks like the age of online learning and hybrid coursework is here to stay with 85 percent of their students enrolled fully online for 2021 and around 38 percent for 2022.
“The convenience of being at home, I think we’re going to maintain a significant number of online.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom addressed enrollment difficulty by proposing $150 million in his budget to build on a previous $120-million investment in community colleges’ enrollment and recruitment efforts.