CSUB’s Spring 2022 enrollment rates decline

Bar chart showing the decline of enrollment at CSUB in Spring 2022.

Bar Chart by Ambria King/The Runner

Ambria King, Staff Writer

For the first time in more than five years, CSU Bakersfield saw a decrease in enrollment rates for the spring 2022 semester, following the COVID-19 pandemic and a transition to online learning. 

“In general, what we’re seeing is moderation in our enrollment about 7-9%, but that number is not settled at this moment so I would only give it as a range right now… but we expect to have less enrollment, overall than last year… due to the pandemic,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vernon Harper. 

“It’s the pandemic that’s been really, really disruptive to our students and families here in Bakersfield,” said Harper, “…many of our families for the last two years, for their work lives, for their educational lives have been severely, severely constrained by the pandemic.” 

Students across Bakersfield are confirming Harper’s statements. 

Nick Geddes, a former Computer Science major at Bakersfield College who planned to transfer to CSUB this year, stated that the transition to online learning, paired with a fear of catching and spreading COVID-19 to his family, caused him to put his academic career on hold until further notice. 

“After the brief lock down, I thought in-person classes would return. When they didn’t, I tried my hand at online courses. I’m not that kind of student. Being on campus and in that educational environment really helps me mentally focus on the tasks I need to do… I couldn’t focus for online work and eventually stopped attending” 

Even now, with many classes returning to in-person meetings, Geddes remains too uncertain to take the risk. 

“Honestly, until I personally can learn to cope with the world around, I’m not sure I’d be able to return. Even with my mask, vaccine, and booster shots, I feel like I could get it again. I have a parent with respiratory issues.” 

Geddes’ concerns seem to echo what Harper is seeing when attempting to assist students with re-enrollment. Harper says that incoming classes of new students are actually quite strong, but it’s continuing students – the ones who were already enrolled when the pandemic first hit at the beginning of 2020, who seem to be having the hardest time adjusting. Harper and CSUB are working to address that issue. 

“What we’ve done is undertaken a re-enrollment campaign. So, knowing that we’re seeing moderation in our enrollment, we’re making sure that we are reaching out to students, providing them with resources. In many cases, addressing outstanding balances and reaching out to them to get them re-enrolled here at the institution. At this point in the semester, we have re-enrolled over 100 students who left the institution mostly due to the pandemic. So yes, we’re seeing some reductions compared to last year due to the pandemic, but we’re doing everything we can to re-enroll them.” 

Harper also made sure to stress that while some classes have been canceled, cancellations are a normal part of every semester and that the reduction in enrollment has not resulted in what he would characterize as an extraordinary level of cancellations. Additionally, there have been zero impacts on personnel. 

Harper also went on to say that the decrease in enrollment had no material impact on the university’s funding.