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Report: Oklahoma community colleges have borne big enrollment losses

Oklahoma City Community College

A study by the Southern Region Education Board shows enrollment at Oklahoma’s two-year colleges had been falling precipitously before the pandemic.

It had dropped 15% between 2016 and 2020. And dropped roughly 10% since 2020, per another report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The SREB report authors said states across the southern region - where the board helps form policies for colleges from Texas to Maryland - must work to reverse that trend. By 2030, the majority of the people living in those states including Oklahoma won’t be of working age - which the nonprofit defines as between the ages of 25 and 65.

These numbers reflect national trends of decreasing college enrollment.

Some other notable Oklahoma stats from the report:

  • In 2019, 34% of working adults in Oklahoma had an associate’s degree or higher. That was good for No. 13 in the region that includes 16 states.
  • In 2019, 20% of Oklahoma children lived in poverty.
  • Between 2014 and 2019 more than 20,000 fewer people enrolled in Oklahoma colleges.
  • Between 2014 and 2019 in Oklahoma, bachelor’s degrees awarded to women increased 4% and those earned by men grew 5%. Approximately 44% of college graduates are men in Oklahoma.
  • Between 2014 and 2019, the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by Black and Hispanic graduates rose by 600 students and increased to 15% of the total.
Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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