College Enrollment and Retention in the Era of COVID

June 16, 2021

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Source: College Board

Authors: Jessica Howell, Mike Hurwitz, Jennifer Ma, Matea Pender, Greg Perfetto, Jeffrey Wyatt, Linda Young

College Board released a report to understand the impact of COVID-19 on college enrollment and retention among recent high school graduates.

The study analyzed nearly 10 million students across the nation, using the data from College Board and the National Student Clearinghouse, which included more than 22,000 U.S high schools and 2,800 U.S colleges. Key findings include:

1. Enrollment rates declined more noticeably among two-year colleges than four-year colleges. The decrease was substantial among two-year institutions, which saw a decline of nearly 12 percent due to the pandemic. Whereas 4.5 percent and 2.8 percent declines were found from private and public four-year institutions, respectively.

2. Retention rates at community colleges declined by nearly 5 percent due to the pandemic, while a 1.4 percent increase was found among public four-year colleges and private nonprofit four-year institutions saw a decrease of only 1.2 percent.

3. Institutions in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest struggled the most. Enrollment of freshmen at four-year colleges declined by 20.6 percent in Idaho, 16.9 percent in Oregon, 16.6 percent in Minnesota, 15.1 percent in Montana, 13 percent in Washington State, and nearly 13 percent in both Illinois and Wisconsin.

To read the full report, please click here.

—Haelim Chun

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