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How local colleges are rebounding in the post COVID-19 era

Retention and enrollment numbers are steadily going up since the fall of 2020.

MIDLAND, Texas — Local colleges across the Permian Basin have been seeing steady increases in both enrollment and retention rates after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Dixon, the vice president of student affairs at Midland College, praised the efforts of not just Midland College, but Odessa College and University of Texas Permian Basin on their efforts.

"I think the three area colleges have done a good job adapting to the post-COVID world," Dixon said. "I’ve seen other numbers across the state and the country that have not indicated that quite of a good increase."

Numbers were initially down during the pandemic as students were unwilling to pay tuition prices and faced unease during the pandemic.

However, with the return to in-person learning, schools have gone the extra length to quell the anxieties of both students and staff.

"They wear masks, same as employees," Dixon said. "They're very aware and concerned about their health, understandably. Midland College does not require it, but we will certainly allow it. I think most students have moved beyond it and, from what I've seen, and most employees as well."

Numbers are tracked by the schools themselves, which are then sent off to the state.

“We track them internally, as well as through our computer system," Dixon said. "We also turn in those numbers to the state, as well and that allows us to compare ourselves to other institutions as well. I have a dashboard on my machine that allows me to check enrollment numbers daily."

Midland College is still in its drop period and has yet to receive and official numbers regarding enrollment or retention numbers for the semester.

However, it is important to keep these numbers up, as they are key to any community college.

“We have what is called a first time in college cohort," Dixon said. "We track that cohort over time. So what we’ve noticed is that our retention numbers are going up. That’s kind of the pipeline of community colleges, so we certainly track retention over time, fall to fall and fall to spring as well.”

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