Western Massachusetts community colleges seeing a surge in applications

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Some college students are rethinking their college journey – deciding to go to a community college rather than a four-year school.

Significant changes to college courses, and even to campus life caused by the pandemic, may have some students rethinking more affordable options for higher education. Chris Yurko, Media Relations Manager for Holyoke Community College said they’re seeing more applications.

He told 22News, “Anecdotally our admissions team reported that we have seen a significant surge in applications and enrollment during the last couple of weeks. Because of COVID, our numbers were down, but they are now significantly improved.”

In recent years, public colleges and universities have been facing budget pressures and declining enrollment. According to the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, the COVID-19 crisis is only making that worse.

For example, community colleges giving access to affordable, high equality education, may become more appealing to a wider range of students who want to keep their education goals on track. Easthampton teacher Blayne Lapan told 22News he thinks it could be a difficult decision to change schools, but it makes sense.

Lapan said, “Especially with the extremely high costs of higher education nowadays, it makes sense to stay a little closer, maybe cut out some of that risk and save a few bucks while you are at it.”

MACC said there are still concerns for low-income and first-generation students who may not have the resources to pay for college.

Holyoke Community College will be starting its fall semester, September 8, with very limited in-person courses.

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