The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC enrollment drops 23% over the course of the last seven years

Enrollment statistics of students at City College from 2014 to 2021. Courtesy of City College Admissions and Records.

City College’s enrollment has been on a steady decline since 2014. 

Several factors have contributed to the continual drop in admission rates, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of the national economy and enrollment rates from the local school area. 

“The amount of full-time students has consistently appeared differently to the past fall,” said Michael Medel, Director of Admissions and Records who is temporarily serving as an area dean for the fall semester. “However, a huge number of the enrollment drop comes from part-time students.”

The school averages a 3-6% decrease in enrollment every fall term. This semester, compared to last fall, has decreased 5%.

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Most of the 5% decrease is not coming from the full-time students. It comes from those enrolled anywhere between 2-11 units — part-time students. This is where the biggest drops in enrollment are being seen and result from the pandemic.

Medel said City College offered more late start classes this fall, which wasn’t done in years prior. This was to give students more flexibility to wait instead of jumping right into courses at the start of the fall.

“One of the reasons for this is The Promise Program. They require students to be enrolled in 12 units, automatically making them into full-time students,” Medel said. “Another would be financial aid since it provides funding to students who are enrolled into 12 units.”

The admissions director said federal and state funding has enabled City College to keep students enrolled.

He said City College recognizes the difficulties the pandemic caused and has provided financial support to its students.

The difficulties in trying to navigate online courses, job loss because of the pandemic and choosing to work full time because of the pandemic make the students commit much less to school, Medel said.

In a survey report conducted by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, students reported drastic declines in their mental health due to loss of income and difficulties with online learning.

International and out-of-state student enrollment decreased because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The college’s plan for increasing enrollment for next fall and having students fully attend back in person is to continue taking safety measures.

“The safer they feel in coming back, the more likely they’ll be to enroll again in in-person classes, thus increasing our enrollment,” Medel said.

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