Distance learning leads to a decrease in district-wide enrollment

Campus closure and instability forces students to make a choice between education and basic needs


The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for any institution to be fully active, which has led to American River College being closed for almost a year and student’s workplaces opening and closing over and over again. This instability has made students wary of the importance of education in Spring 2021. (Photo via pixabay)

Economic hardships and 100% distance learning has taken a toll on most students, but for some the pandemic has made it impossible to return to school during the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Los Rios Community College District has experienced a 10% decrease in enrollment from the last fall and spring semesters, according to LRCCD Chancellor of Communications Gabe Ross.

“These numbers, while troubling, are actually better than many others around the state,” Ross said. “Some California community colleges are down 15, 20%, or even much more.”

One of the draws to the college is the career education or job training programs, Ross adds.

“The move to online instruction has meant that some programs (particularly career education programs like automotive technology, welding, construction disciplines) have been entirely suspended until we can resume more on-campus classes,” Ross said. “There is no question that the hibernation of these programs, along with other programs that are still active but may be less desirable in an online setting, has impacted our enrollment as well.”

A common theme of student’s struggles with distance learning is that they are not able to see their professors in-person and the lack of motivation to do schoolwork online.

“I feel like my ability to retain information has gone down the gutter,” said biology major Olivia Tice. “The only reason why I’m still taking classes is because I have no idea when distance learning will end, and I’m afraid I’d lose what motivation I have to continue.”

Sarah Choy, art major, has also struggled with distance learning and has taken this semester off due to the hardships of online learning and motivation to do work remotely.

“When I first started school I had lost the routine I needed to keep me focused on completing work,” Choy said. “This semester I am hoping to recenter myself and my mind so that I can be more productive in the future.”

While there are many disadvantages to distance learning, the district is hoping to entice students to stay enrolled as it will greatly benefit their future.

“Our colleges and the entire Los Rios district are redoubling our efforts to reach out to prospective and former students to encourage them to enroll or re-enroll in classes,” Ross said. “We are also working to get more students to take more units, which we know is incredibly beneficial to student’s ability to complete their degree or certificate on time.”

For students who are interested in re-enrolling, they need to re-apply to American River College and meet with a counselor to receive Priority 2 registration for classes. This priority type focuses on returning and transfer students.

However, if 90 degree-applicable units have already been taken, the student cannot receive priority registration, according to the official ARC website.

For tuition, the California College Promise Grant can be used if you have not been enrolled full-time for four straight semesters.