Equity Spotlight: Pandemic Enrollment Changes

Equity Spotlight: Pandemic Enrollment Changes by Population

In follow-up to DHE’s October 2020 report ("Historic Declines in Fall Undergraduate Enrollment Call for Evidence-Based, Equity-Minded Policy Solutions") on overall trends in fall undergraduate enrollment at Massachusetts public colleges and universities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, more detailed fall data is now available, allowing for deeper exploration of the pandemic enrollment changes by race/ethnicity and other student characteristics.

Key Insights by Race/Ethnicity

As anticipated, there are declines among all of the largest racial/ethnic groups enrolled in Massachusetts public higher education—Black, Latinx and White—with the sharpest declines among Black and Latinx students. These declines are particularly concerning given that college and university enrollment among Black and Latinx students had been trending up in recent years, while White enrollment, consistent with demographic trends in the state, had been trending down for a decade.

As with the overall trends, these declines are sharper in the community college segment, which also serves the largest numbers of Students of Color in the public higher education system. Within the community colleges, comparing fall 2020 to fall 2019, enrollment among Black undergraduates declined 15.8%, among Latinx undergraduates declined 21.1%, and among White undergraduates declined 9.3%.

Interactive: Which undergraduate populations have been affected most by enrollment changes during the pandemic?

The following dashboard allows users to explore the effect of enrollment changes during the pandemic on different undergraduate populations, including exploration of the intersection of multiple characteristics.

For example, selecting the “Community Colleges” and “New First-Time” characteristics will show these comparisons between fall 2020 to fall 2019:

Exploring this data further using multiple student characteristics at once, such as race and gender, allows stakeholders to consider and ask further questions about the complex and intersectional challenges students are facing.

How to use this dashboard: Click the Full Screen icon in the lower right for an optimal interactive experience. Click one or more graph segments in the “2020 Headcount by Characteristic” section to filter all graphs on the screen by the selected characteristic(s). Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac) to select multiple segments within the same graph. Click any selected characteristic to clear that individual filter. Click the Revert button in the lower left to clear all filters. Hover over any graph segment for more information about that population; information will take into account any filters applied to the whole dashboard.