Sue Ellspermann, Ivy Tech president
Sue Ellspermann, Ivy Tech president
Sue Ellspermann saw the predictions early this year that the COVID-19 pandemic might result in an enrollment spike for community colleges, but the president of Ivy Tech wasn’t sure if that would happen.

Pundits reasoned that students, some influenced by concerned family members, would choose to stay closer to home for their education. Ellspermann knew there was another factor at play.

“It mattered a lot on what modality the four-years (colleges and universities) would use,” she said. “Through summer, it started out early on they were going virtual, then over the summer, things got better and they planned for in-person.”

Outbreaks caused some four-year institutions, such as the University of North Carolina, to abruptly revert to online-only classes. But that came after students across the country had already made decisions for the fall.

So community colleges didn’t get an enrollment boost from students choosing to stay close to home. And some students who were never considering attending a four-year institution decided to put off their education for numerous reasons related to the pandemic.
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