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Following a national trend for community colleges, College of the Canyons’ enrollment numbers are down about 12% from the same point in the semester last fall, according to college officials. Nationally, the figure is about 11.3% this year.

College officials cited the “uncertainty of the pandemic and its economic effects,” as part of the challenge for enrollments, in a statement to The Signal from COC spokesman Eric Harnish.

“Many of our most vulnerable students lost their jobs, or were forced to work more to help support their families, and have put their education on hold,” he said. “Knowing that, we have made a concerted effort to provide support that will help them achieve their goals.”

College officials have sought to help students and support safe attendance a number of different ways, including financial assistance, fewer fees and continued support for distance learning, Harnish added.

For returning students, things will be a little bit different on campus at College of the Canyons this fall.

College officials said they’re “very excited” to welcome students back in person to the campus, with about one-third of its 2,000 course offerings being in-person — an option that might be almost as popular as the free student parking on campus.

“There’s a lot of options for students whether they want to attend on campus either at Valencia or the Canyon Country campus or if they prefer online,” Harnish said, noting in-person attendees would be subject to the college’s recent requirements for either vaccination or regular testing.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health has a drive-thru testing clinic in the parking structure on the Valencia campus, and vaccinations have been available on the campus outside the Student Center since Aug. 16.

“There is a strong demand for both in-person and online classes,” he added. “Students have come to appreciate the flexibility that’s available through online learning. But a lot of students prefer the traditional opportunity to be in a class and engage with faculty and fellow students in-person.”

As the pandemic created a number of hardships for students, the college also sought to help out with a $300 textbook voucher upon proof of vaccination and by adding more courses that don’t require the purchase of textbooks, as well as financial assistance grants tied to COVID-19 hardships.

The emergency grants are “available to currently enrolled students who need help covering expenses related to pandemic, such as housing, food and health care,” according to Harnish, who noted the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant is $3,000 for full-time students (taking 12 or more units), or $1,500 for part-time students (taking less than 12 units).

With students able to register for classes until Sunday, and with shorter-term courses soon getting under way, Harnish was confident the enrollment numbers would continue to tick upward.

“Looking ahead, we’re working to create new credit programs based on labor demand and workforce needs,” Harnish said, mentioning law enforcement technology, cyber security and physical therapy as a few of the more recent additions. “We know that the economy is changing and the workforce is changing because of the pandemic, so we’re looking at creating those programs that will give students an opportunity to pursue new careers.”

To apply for a COVID-19 grant, visit www.canyons.edu/covidgrant.
Abbie DeMuth contributed to this report.

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