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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Classes impacted by withdrawals

Enrollment dropped about 4% this year because students withdrew from at least one class, and data suggested it’s because of COVID-19.

This change is between March 12 through April 12 compared to last year when the drop in enrollment was at about 2%.

Dean of Institutional Effectiveness Amari Williams provided charts to compare dropped classes and how many students withdrew with an “Excused Withdrawal” (EW) since the transition announcement.

“What we’re seeing is that for many of the populations that are more vulnerable, they’re being impacted greater with the [COVID-19] crisis,” Williams said.

Williams said the 2% was used as a baseline for the comparison and is normal. He said these are students who choose to take a “W” in their courses.

Williams said the 4% comes from the average in the college that varies from each discipline.

For instance, he said enrollment in technical theater decreased by 44%. However, the discipline is smaller compared to English. Because it’s smaller, that means there is less enrollment and fewer classes offered.

To prepare to go to the summer and fall semesters, Williams and his team are looking at specific populations and the daily enrollment drops. They’re also trying to see if there is a trend in the drop in enrollment.

This year, of those who withdrew between March and April, an average of 43% were female, and 57% were male, according to the graphs. For ethnicity, 61% were underrepresented, and 39% were represented.

Of those same students, Williams said eligible Pell Grant students who withdrew were consistent to about 35% to 40%. Depending on the day, the number would sometimes reach up to 60%.

“This is not saying that 35% of our Pell-eligible students are dropping out,” Williams said. “That’s not what this means. It means ‘of’ all the drops.”

A different graph focused on non-eligible and eligible AB 540 students. Williams said there was a positive disproportion happening with the AB 540 students, whom the vast majority did not withdraw within the first two weeks of the announcement.

Of those who did drop, about 3% of them were AB 540 students, compared to non-AB 540 students.

Williams said that after spring break ended, the drops increased between March 27 through March 29.

“There are some days going into the beginning of the resumption of spring, where AB 540 students represented about 10% ‘of’ all the withdrawals that happened,” Williams said. “Then you go into spring and maybe they’re trying out, ‘How is this going for me? Am I adjusting to being in class online?’”

Williams said the data shows evidence that perhaps the online shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on vulnerable populations.

Williams advised students to speak to their counselor if they are thinking of withdrawing from at least one of their classes or are considering switching to a “Pass/ No Pass” grade basis.

“If you are looking to transfer, speak with the college you’re transferring to. Run whatever you’re considering, withdrawing or changing to a ‘Pass/No Pass,’ by both of those areas,” Williams said. “ So your counselor in your transfer school, by them first before you make a decision because you have the time. You still have several more weeks to make that decision.”

The last day to withdraw with an “EW” or petition a class to a “Pass/No Pass” is May 10. 

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