Withdrawals at Mesa escalate due to pandemic

The+enrollment+number+has+gone+down+this+semester+because+of+the+COVID-19+pandemic.+Credit%3A+Office+of+Communications

San Diego Mesa College

The enrollment number has gone down this semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Office of Communications

Ana Laniado, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has so far resulted in a majority of classes to be held online through the spring, summer and fall 2020 semesters. Because of this, enrollment numbers have already become affected.

Jack Beresford, the director of communications and public relations at Mesa College, said the institution has had 8,393 withdrawals through week 14 of this semester – a 46% increase over week 14 of last year’s spring semester. This is no surprise after the health and economic crisis we currently live in.

According to Vice President of Instruction Dr. Isabel O’Connor, due to the abrupt conversion of the semester to the online modality, both full-term and late-start classes were reduced in size because of the drop-outs.

“Students enrolled in full term courses, which were past the census date, saw a series of students withdraw,” said O’Connor. “The other impact is in regard to late start classes – prior to the emergency, these courses were full or nearly full. As April 4, the late-start beginning date approached, we saw student drops.”

Although she commented it was hard to predict, O’Connor said Fall 2020 could mean many scenarios for community colleges. A resurgence of the virus could disrupt everything again, but on the other hand, because of the economic recession predicted, more people may consider enrolling into community colleges rather than four-year institutions. She added that Mesa is planning on offering courses in the fall semester needed to complete degrees and certificates. 

In regards to admissions, since now more than ever there might be an absence of new students, Mesa has been providing all new-student services remotely at the Online Support Services webpage, with individual email addresses for different types of inquiries – whether it is general inquiries or specific ones. Zoom meetings for face-to-face advising have also been provided, according to Ivonne Alvarez, the Mesa admissions director.

“Students can email, call or Zoom us and we are hoping to start a live chat soon,” said Alvarez. “Some students have texted us, and we have been able to reply back. We want to continue supporting our students in the ways that they want to be connected to us.”

Many tools have been provided to encourage students to enroll, as well as to let current students know that there is support out there for them during this pandemic, such as emergency grants and scholarships. 

Although it is still too early to provide any details on how the enrollment of the summer and fall 2020 semesters have been affected, the district stated they will be following the numbers closely.