KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Enrollment in Kansas is down at all six state universities.
Figures recently released by the Kansas Board of Regents also show that enrollment in community and technical colleges is on the rise.
So what is driving these trends?
Kansas City Public Schools hosted a college fair for high school students on Tuesday. Many said the pandemic and virtual learning made them think about what they wanted to do and experience after high school.
This, coupled with economic factors such as parental job loss, creates shifting education priorities.
Sumner Academy senior Geily Flores-Acosta said that over the past two school years, what she understands to be her values in education have changed.
“During the pandemic, during my quarantine, I kind of realized I needed to focus a little more on myself than my actual academic affairs because all I did was like work, work, work,” she declared. “And it was just a bunch of mission after mission after mission, and I never really had the motivation to do anything because I always stayed in bed.”
Others have also described this pendulum oscillating between forced introversion and the new social possibilities of the college overshadowed by a certain economic anxiety.
“I know a lot of them have been through a lot during the pandemic, and they just want to make sure they’re okay and their families are okay,” said Lanya Meade, a senior at Wyandotte High School.
“It taught me to like to focus on the things I want to do with myself, you know? Being in quarantine and not being able to really get out much, I really had to focus on what I wanted to do, ”said Sidney Harris, senior at Sumner Academy.
“I look more towards smaller colleges, that way I could connect with one-on-one faculty a lot more easily than at a large college,” said Luna Marin, senior at Wyandotte High School.
Flores-Acosta said the pandemic had not turned her away from college, but her experience with virtual learning changed her research.
“And not going out during that time affected my way of thinking,” said Flores-Acosta.
Last year, the university fair was held virtually and organizers said they believed it was a success. But compared to the event in person, they said that in person is the way to go.
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