Fresno City College Faces Enrollment Decline in Fall 2021, Hopes for Spring 2022 Increases

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Photo by: Julie Chavez

Fresno City College campus sees decline in fall 2021

Story By: Krystle Nozartash, Managing Editor

Like many other colleges in California, Fresno City College saw a decline in enrollment for the fall 2021 semester but campus officials are hoping numbers increase in spring 2022.

Don Lopez, FCC vice president of instruction, said COVID-19 damaged five years of enrollment increases the institution is now trying to gain back.

He feels the institution is doing well in providing what is needed for students to achieve more graduations, certificates and better success rates.

According to FCC’s student headcount dashboard, enrollment for fall 2021 was down to 20,473 students from fall 2020 enrollment of 22,564 students. 

FCC always loses a certain percentage of students over the course of the semester for reasons like starting a job, family challenges or other obligations. However, when COVID-19 hit, the number became higher than the usual 3,000 students the institution loses, according to Lopez. 

“Here’s the thing, if I just give you that number, you would think holy moly, that’s a lot of students that left,” he said.

The more students the college loses, the more it affects the school financially, according to Lopez.

Lataria Hall, FCC vice president of student services, said the college saw the largest decline among men between three ages of 18 and 24 years old. 

FCC is now thinking of other ways to get them back on campus. 

A large amount of FCC’s enrollment numbers come from graduated high school students, which the institution is also seeing a decrease in, according to Hall. 

“Maybe it was a fear because everything was going to be virtual and transitioning from being in high school and coming to college,” she said.

State Center Community College District Vaccine Mandate and Student Services

Hall does not believe the SCCCD vaccine mandate has had an effect on FCC’s enrollment because students have the option to stay online, so they do not have to be vaccinated.

Tiffany Pineda, a child development major who is currently enrolled in online classes, plans to return to campus for spring 2022.

She said online is her preferred way of learning because it allows her to go at her own pace and not rush assignments. 

Pineda is not currently vaccinated but said she plans to be in the future because of professional and academic requirements.

While she doesn’t completely agree with the mandate, she believes her education is “worth the jab.”

“I’m doing this for myself, and so my dad who lost this year can see me graduating from up there,” she said.

The institution has not dropped any students from any course and does not plan to, regardless of the vaccine mandate effective on Nov. 15. 

According to Lopez, the institution hired more staff in tutorial services and bought technological equipment for students. 

In addition, Lopez said FCC does outreach by email and phone calls to their students who have left. 

“We want you guys here. We want to see you. We want to walk around and we want to see you out there going to class,” Lopez said. “That’s why we do what we do. That’s why I do what I do.”

Plans for Spring 2022

This semester FCC has approximately 250 courses in-person. By spring 2022 that number will be closer to 1,500, according to Lopez.

The college hopes returning more in-person classes will encourage more students to enroll.

FCC biology instructor Hawkins Dowis said normally his classes would fill up, but there has been a slight decrease in students. 

He said he’s looking forward to interacting with his students and getting back in the classroom. In the spring, all his classes will be in-person.

“I much prefer being face to face so that I can interact with my students and have a good idea of how they’re doing in the class rather than just looking at graded material,” he said.

In regards to the SCCCD mandate, Dowis believes the vaccine mandate was the right thing to do to keep students and faculty safe.

Overall, he wants students to understand and see the significance of education and how it should be prioritized.

“Education is such an important part of your life, just for self-enrichment and advancement,” Dowis said. “I would just encourage everybody, if you have been kind of holding off on getting your education, to go back and re-enroll.”