Johnson County Community College sees spike in student enrollment despite national decline

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 8:57 AM CDT
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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. (KCTV) - College enrollment has plummeted since the start of the pandemic and schools in both Missouri and Kansas have been no exception. Many students graduating high school have deferred college enrollment and decided to enter the workforce after graduation.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse, undergraduate college enrollment dropped eight percent between 2019 and 2022, the steepest decline on record in the United States. The numbers dropped even more in Missouri (13.6 percent) and Kansas (11 percent).

At Johnson County Community College, the enrollment dropped during the heart of the pandemic, but in the single digits, lower than the state average. Staff at JCCC said the lack of in-person classes caused the drop, as well as students finding other alternatives after high school.

“A lot of students pulled away because they did not feel that their needs were being met by online education,” JCCC Chief Academic Officer, L. Michael McCloud said. “Folks pulled away out of fear that they could not get themselves to acclimate to an online environment in a way that really would see them be successful.”

While the college did see a decline at the heart of the pandemic, that trend has changed. According to McCloud, enrollment rose four percent over the past academic school year, just shy of enrollment numbers prior to the pandemic.

JCCC staff said the biggest factors for the recent spike were the return of in-person classes, affordability and accessibility. At Johnson County Community College, the price per credit hour is anywhere from $94 to $112, depending on whether a student is a Johnson County resident or not. Taking a look at four-year universities, Kansas State charges roughly $350 per credit hour, Kansas charges roughly $400 per credit hour.

“Still being under 100 dollars a credit hour really positions us strongly in a market relative to our partners because of the rising costs to deliver their product has really forced them to go upwards,” McCloud said.

In Fall 2022, Johnson County Community College had a credit enrollment of 16,497 students, with an average age of 24 years old.