KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In Kansas, enrollment is on the decline across the six state universities.
The figures recently published by the Kansas Board of Regents also show that enrollment at community and technical colleges is increasing.
So what’s fueling these trends?
On Tuesday, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools held a college fair for high school seniors. Many said the pandemic and virtual learning have made them reflect on what they want to do and experience after high school.
That, coupled with economic factors like parental job loss, creates changing priorities education-wise.
Sumner Academy senior Geily Flores-Acosta said during the past two school years, what she understands to be her values in education have changed.
“During the pandemic era, during the quarantine, I kind of realized that I needed to focus on myself a little bit more than my actual academic stuff because all I did was like work, work, work,” she said. “And it was just a bunch of assignments, after assignments, after assignments, and I never really had any motivation to do anything because I always stayed in bed.”
Others also described that pendulum swinging between forced introversion and the new social possibilities of college clouded with some economic anxiety.
“I know that a lot of them have gone through a lot during the pandemic, and they just want to make sure they’re OK and their family is good,” said Lanya Meade, a senior at Wyandotte High School.
“It taught me just to like hone in on the things that I want to do with myself, you know? With being in quarantine and not really being able to go out much, I really had to focus on what I wanted to do,” said Sidney Harris, a senior at Sumner Academy.
“I am looking more toward smaller colleges, that way I could connect with professors one-on-one a lot more easier than what it would be in a big college,” said Luna Marin, a senior at Wyandotte High School.
Flores-Acosta said the pandemic hasn’t turned her off from college, but her experience with virtual learning has changed her search.
“And not going out during that time affected the way I thought,” Flores-Acosta said.
Last year, the college fair event was held virtually, and organizers said they felt it was successful. But compared to the in-person event, they said in-person is the way to go.