Posted on: December 10, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Xena Romo, JRN 111 Student

Taryn Wesclitz has had trouble focusing on school during the pandemic.

 “I lost close to all of my motivation since I would never even try to do an online class,” said Wesclitz, a 20-year-old student at Moraine Valley Community College. “I was forced to start learning online which I felt I never truly got used to.”

Taryn Wesclitz struggles to maintain her motivation for online classes.

Wesclitz is not alone. The coronavirus outbreak put a pause on many students’ educational motivation, shifting their focus to family, finances, and mental health issues. These factors are contributing to a decline in enrollment at Moraine and at other community colleges around the state.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “Enrollment at Illinois community colleges plunged nearly 14% this fall, an indication that low-income and older students who typically favor the institutions might be struggling to pursue higher education because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

At Moraine, the pandemic played a big role in the decline of student enrollment for this semester. According to Emmanuel Esperanza, Jr., assistant dean of Enrollment Services, in terms of credit hours, 2020 fall enrollment fell by 16.9 percent compared to 2019 fall enrollment.

For the past five years, Moraine has carried a steady retention rate of 72.6 percent. However, the retention from spring 2020 to fall 2020 was only 50.4 percent.

“We are concerned since many students have endured and continue to endure so much uncertainty,” Esperanza said. “Many institutions have experienced a decline in enrollment. This one enrollment trend has been affected by COVID-19.”

Students recognize the value of higher education, but some find it too difficult to afford.

“Putting myself through a semester of remote learning I realized it isn’t worth it for me in my current situation financially, to have this burden placed on me because I am paying for school out of pocket,” said junior Yehri Avila.

“We are concerned since many students have endured and continue to endure so much uncertainty.”

Emmanuel Esperanza, Jr., assistant dean of Enrollment Services

The daily repetition of routine can take a toll on one’s motivation and mental health. Having to stay inside constantly for over six months and being restricted from doing outdoor activities can be exhausting, although it was to protect people’s safety.

“Mentally I’m not impressed, and I feel like I’m suffering,” said 20-year-old political science major Priscilla Chavez.

Moraine has been listening to concerns and cooperating with its students to combat the problems and help them continue their education. In response to a survey of students, the college is doubling the number of classes offered in a hybrid format for spring, providing for more face-to-face instruction.

The school provides many counseling resources, lap tops, hot spot checkouts, and internet access in parking lots. Financial help is available through the GEERS fund, CARES act, and increased scholarships.

“The Foundation had an increase of student assistance of more than 600 percent,” said Patricia Friend, director of Alumni and Annual Programs. “We gave 200 scholarships so far this year which is a little more than normal and of course the students were thrilled to have received them.”