One of the hardest things to do during this pandemic is think ahead. Like others, I’m trying to get through the fog taking things one day at a time. This NPR story, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/17/925831720/losing-a-generation-fall-college-enrollment-plummets-for-first-year-students?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20201217&utm_term=5037322&utm_campaign=breaking-news&utm_id=11366473&orgid=305 was a stark reminder that for young high school grads, all of their future plans – as far as graduating and attending college – disappeared, just vanished in the snap of two fingers, once the impact of the pandemic was clear. And those taking the biggest hit, were youths from low-income and minority communities (not to mention Native American communities who may or may not be included in surveys).
“For students who graduated from high school in the class of 2020, the number of graduates enrolling in college is down by 21.7% compared with last year, based on preliminary data. For graduates at high-poverty high schools there was a 32.6% decline in attending college, compared with a 16.4% decline for graduates of low-poverty schools (Source: Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse).”
Shapiro goes on to say: “…”That’s a lot of individuals whose lives are on hold, whose career and educational aspirations are suspended,” says Shapiro. “You can almost think of this as an entire generation that will enter adulthood with lower education, lower skills, less employability, ultimately lower productivity.”
The impacts of Covid upon individuals, their family and community are outlined in this NPR story; as are the implications of the sudden re-direction of expectations by those whose dreams of entering a four or two-year college or university were crushed.
“There is a much larger implication here for the country,” says Angel Pérez, who oversees the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “The fact is if we lose an entire generation of young people in the pipeline to college, that will have an impact on our tax base. It will have an impact on an educated citizenry.”
There’s much to digest in the data, but, this excellent piece of reporting focuses down on individual stories. For example:
“For Catalina Cifuentes, who works to promote college access in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, the number of students who decided not to go to college worries her. “It really does feel like we’re losing a generation,” she says.
The students in her county are mostly from low-income families, and many would be the first in their family to go to college. “They don’t know what they don’t know,” she says. “They don’t know that research shows the longer you’re out of school, the less likely you are to return.”
For those youths opting -or forced – to stay out of college, what will they do if they cannot find work? Will they decide in a year or two to re-enroll? Will the declines in enrollment and revenues force community colleges and state universities to raise tuition in coming years to re-cap the shortfall in revenues?
So many unforeseen consequences; so few answers…