Enrollment continues to decline

Over the last few years, student enrollment has continued to decrease each semester.

Compared to this time last year, there has been about a 3 percent drop in students enrolled at Cosumnes River College, said Communications and Public Information Officer Kristie West.

“When the economy is poor and people begin to lose their jobs, they will sometimes come to community colleges to learn a new skill or completely change their career,” West said.

Since early 2010, U.S. businesses has added 15 million jobs and progress has been made to raise minimum wage, according to an August 2016 statement from former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.  

“Historically, as the economy improves and Americans get back to work, college enrollment declines,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell in an interview with CNN.

Historically, as the economy improves and Americans get back to work, college enrollment declines.

— Kristie West, CRC Public Information Officer

Low enrollment directly affects students because classes with few students might be cancelled, West said.  Instructors are also at risk of having an entire course cancelled.

All of the Los Rios colleges are also experiencing a decrease in enrollment, according to a memo by Los Rios Chancellor Brian King.

The decline in enrollment could be influenced by the price of tuition, Mitchell said.

“Too many students and families feel that college is out of reach,” said Mitchell in the CNN interviews. “Never in our history has the opportunity to complete college mattered so much to Americans’ life outcomes.”

The fear of not being able to afford college or to pay off a massive student loan debt may play a factor in why people decide to pursue a full time job instead of being a full time student.

On Feb. 6, the city of San Francisco announced that they are offering free community college to their residents regardless of their income.

San Francisco City College officials hope that these proposals will expand access to education, especially for low-income students, according to NBC news.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2015, college graduates make almost double the salary workers with only a high school diploma.

However, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that by the end of 2014, there were more than 800,000 students that dropped out of college.

But not all students at CRC said that they feel that dropping out of college is the better option.  

“Everybody tells me, especially my elders, to go to college so I can have a better job,” said Alec Ilaga, 18, a business major. “I do believe that I could choose to just work, but that’s not what I really want to do. I actually like school. I’d rather go to school than to just work.”

To counteract the decreased enrollment, CRC has created a program called “It Pays to Stay,” which emphasizes that “completing a degree or certificate can increase your earnings potential,” according to CRC’s website.  

“We are increasing our efforts to try to keep the students we have,” West said. “We are trying to make sure the we increase awareness about the importance of persistence.”

A degree is not just a piece of paper, it is a certificate for your achievements.

— Alexis Keo, 21, business major

CRC has also created the First Year Experience program to directly address the needs of incoming college freshmen and increase student success in an effort to keep them enrolled each semester.

West said the new program is already showing great promise towards enrollment totals by retaining the enrollment rates with first year students.  

Biology major Alexis Keo, 21, said that she feels that attending college is worth the effort required.

“It is better to get a degree than to just work,” she said. “A degree is not just a piece of paper, it is a certificate for your achievements.”