Report: How Schools Can Lure Students Back to Community College

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Statistics show that enrollment of male students of color dropped significantly more than other student populations. Photo Credit: mdurson / Adobestock

During the pandemic, California community colleges lost 19% of their enrollment, but as a new report found, a handful of schools bucked the trend.

Researchers with the Campaign for College Opportunity found some schools had smaller losses or even added students by focusing on equity and expanding outreach.

Colleen Moore, higher-education research and policy consultant who interviewed dozens of college administrators for the study, explained financial support was helpful.

“All the colleges I spoke with talked about expanding financial supports in some way,” Moore recounted. “Through things like transportation and book vouchers as a means of helping low-income students stay enrolled.”

Schools also relied on data analytics to see where students were stopping out and refine course schedules, curriculum, programs and institutional policies to better meet student needs. They also increased partnerships with local employers to offer students a path to a job after graduation, and tried to create a more supportive campus culture.

Moore added many of the schools expanded their efforts to reach out to current, former and prospective students.

“Some people talked about explicit efforts to divide up their list of students to contact based on race or ethnicity,” Moore noted. “And assigning the lists of staff that share that background as one aspect of their efforts to make their campus more welcoming to all students.”

The nine schools with either smaller enrollment losses or adding students include community colleges in Barstow, Berkeley, Clovis, Folsom Lake, Moorpark, Sacramento, San Diego, Visalia and West Hills.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.