California Community College Students Choosing Jobs Over Class Likely Fuel Enrollment Drop

California's precipitous drop in undergraduate college enrollment — driven largely by big declines in community college attendance — has continued for a second straight year, a trend fueled by a declining population and pandemic pressures drawing young adults to the workforce, not classrooms.

California saw an overall 6.5% drop in undergraduate enrollment from fall 2020 to fall 2021, a decline that is higher than the 3.5% national average and the sixth highest in the nation after Mississippi, Alaska, Indiana, New Mexico and Delaware. When undergraduate enrollment is measured against pre-pandemic fall 2019, the California decline is 11.4%, according to the latest data collected from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which compiled the higher education attendance trends.

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