The Education Equation: High school seniors choose community college due to pandemic concerns

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – While colleges are trying to grapple with keeping dorms and large lecture halls coronavirus free once school begins, students are second-guessing being away from family on a large campus and postponing a 4-year experience to start at home.

Kyla Logan had plans to attend Mississippi State University after graduating from Senatobia High School. But once the pandemic turned Spring Break into weeks of at-home learning, community college felt like a better decision. ​

Now she’s enrolled down the street at Northwest Mississippi Community College. “My mother, she just told me automatically, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to feel with you not being close to me.’ As the pandemic got worse and worse, I was like yeah that’d be the best decision. I’d be closer to home,” Logan said.​

She’s making a smart move, according to Stephen Brown with Get2College. The foundation helps thousands of Mississippi families with college admissions advice each year.​

Brown says students are still enrolling in school at the same rate, just choosing different options. “For the schools that are only offering online options…about 48% of those students are deciding to either defer that first semester and go in the Spring, or choose a more affordable option closer to home.”​

Brown says not only is choosing to stay home and attend community college helping students feel safer during the pandemic, but it also saves money.​ “If you download the course curriculum for the majority of majors, you’ll see that no matter the college these students are going to, they’re taking the exact same classes. Of the people who hold Bachelor’s degrees in Mississippi, about 69% started at a community college,” Brown said.​

Brown encourages students who are staying at home to take full advantage of any virtual activities the school hosts, to build a support system and keep some normalcy in the college experience.

He thinks that once students who are choosing community college and online courses for the Fall see how well it works, they’ll be more inclined to finish there, and not transfer even if the pandemic is under control in 2021.

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