Photography is very important to Kevin Lopez. He has been taking photos since he was a child. When he joined LaGuardia, he was excited to pursue his passion and find some solidarity. But there was no structured group that catered exclusively to his lifelong love. “It was a good idea to start a Photography Club […]
Georgia Patronas, 20, always dreamt of having her own business. The isolation of the pandemic gave her an opportunity to reflect on her future. It made her realize the value of education and led her to enroll as a business major with a minor in English at LaGuardia Community College.
“I did start college here at LaGuardia during the pandemic, so I was online, and I really enjoyed that. I’m more of an antisocial type of person so it was kind of my thing,” she said. She was at first overwhelmed, but she soon adjusted.
Despite all the interruptions and challenges, she is resolute in her pursuit of education.
This is a grim period for higher education. According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, there has been a 1.1 percent decline in undergraduate enrollment in Fall 2022 compared to Fall 2021 and it is 0.4 percent for community colleges
This decline is also reflected in LaGuardia’s enrollment numbers according to the 2022 Institutional Profile report published by the college’s Office of Institutional Research & Assessment. In Fall 2017, there were 19, 356 students who enrolled for credit. In 2021, only 14, 913 enrolled.
Despite stories of declining enrollment nationwide, many like Patronas continue to believe in the importance and practical value of a degree.
Persevering despite the pandemic, many are choosing to attend college either full-time or part-time.
Full-time first-year student Kristina Hatcher, 30, is returning to campus to continue with her major in liberal arts while also dealing with anxiety. “Continuing my education is keeping me on the right track as it became easier for me to get to a class,” she said.
Hatcher’s anxiety as she begins entering the new semester, however, does not interfere with her dedication to studying at LaGuardia.
In addition to continuing her studies, she has explored numerous opportunities and programs put in place “to help engage prospective students to see this campus as an open door rather than an institution that provides a simple degree after completion,” she said.
Some students are also choosing the opportunity to explore the campus and school. Second-year theater major student Jeremiah Dormeus, 19 was eager to explore the school grounds, and to make connections with other students.
“A lot more people interacting with each other, hanging out in the school’s cafeterias and everyone I met had great vibes,” he said.
With the anticipation of students, staff, and professors returning to LaGuardia, Dormeus took courses online in 2021 and was in a tedious state of waiting for the school to re-open its campus. His experience of attending college at home had a lot to be desired: “Classes online doesn’t give you that feeling you’re in a class,” he said. However, Dormeus’s in-person college experience has, he says, greatly benefited his ability to learn.
Others are more apprehensive about coming back, such as liberal arts major, Amanda Libock, 28, who has mixed feelings about returning to LaGuardia after the pandemic closure. “I think online classes was working really well for a lot of people, especially for people who may be having other things going on outside of school,” she said.
Despite Libock agreeing to online classes being beneficial, she does, however, “Get a clearer sense of what in-person college is like and I have come back for that purpose,” she added.