Of the roughly 140 graduates in Buchtel’s Class of 2020, about 20 or 30 enrolled in college this fall, Marlise says. That’s definitely a drop.
A year ago, closer to 40 percent of the 2019 graduates enrolled in college immediately.
What kept her 2020 graduates from going to college? Mostly, she says, a dislike of online classes.
“They want that teacher there,” Marlise says. “Relationships are huge. They feel that they learn better.”
Many say they still want to go to college later, after the pandemic. In the meantime, they’re volunteering at church and earning money at fast-food jobs or gas stations or the hospital.
Mapping Out a Plan
The pandemic, Marlise says, is changing how she gives advice to students. She’s focusing even more on making sure her students have a clear plan—whether it involves college or not, or not right away.
She’s still disappointed when her students tell her they’re not going to college. She asks them to at least consider it. She’s especially dogged about this message: Don’t give up on your dream of college, even if it’s delayed.
And she worries about the drops in college-going and how they could widen an already enormous income gap in her community.
“The important thing I’ve learned, though, is to make sure kids are happy,” Marlise says. “You have to let kids choose their path. Maybe they need time to mature.”
She knows from experience. After she graduated from high school in Cleveland, she went straight to Cleveland State and then flunked out, she says. “I wasn’t mature enough.” After serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, she tried again, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron and later going on to get several master’s degrees.
+ Community colleges have been hit particularly hard by enrollment drops this fall, seeing a 9-percent decline nationwide.
Read coverage from our local reporters about what that means for Northeast Ohio
and for Colorado