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As a result of the pandemic, universities across the country saw a decrease in enrollment. Many students were unable to continue their higher education due to the conflicts that COVID-19 brought. Some did not have access to technology or other resources to continue online learning, while others felt the cost was too high to continue. The economic strain of the pandemic caused families to cut costs, and in some cases obtain more jobs, as those who became sick were no longer able to work. With people becoming more conscious of their spending, some students felt that they should not have to pay the same amount of tuition to attend a four-year university online when they could receive the same quality of education from another institution or a junior college. Due to these conflicts, universities and colleges were forced to shift their curriculum and provide more resources to support students. 

From the tragedy of the pandemic came the acceptance and inclusion of online and hybrid courses. Needing to adapt to the new world circumstances, higher education institutions did not want students to fall further behind and moved online. Allowing students the flexibility to take courses this way made higher education more accessible for parents, minorities and other groups that were unable to previously attend school in a traditional in-person setting. Taking courses online may have previously been looked down upon but became the new norm. 

The downside of online courses is that tuition costs have largely remained the same. Some institutions gave students credit or refunds for certain services like housing or dining plans but tuition saw little to no decrease. Monetary relief was seen through government aid, yet it was still not enough to relieve everyone. This led to a large movement of students opting to leave to take courses at a junior college or start there first. 

Junior colleges have been accepting of students from all backgrounds for several years. They advertise themselves as being more inclusive and cost effective while providing a quality education. Those in school when the pandemic began, or those wanting to start their higher education journey, realized this and opted to support junior colleges seeing that they also supported them back. In California, there is ample aid for our community colleges and students attending right after high school are able to attend free for two years. 

Now that colleges and universities have started resuming in-person courses, students have become upset that hybrid and online options are now limited. Those who become sick or have circumstances where they or someone they live with are immunocompromised do not have the same support or resources they did during the first two years of the pandemic. Universities, especially the University of California system, often operate as a business and see students as merely a source of income. This has caused the UC system to push for in-person courses knowing they will make more money from students being on the campus. Junior colleges appear to still have a large catalog of hybrid and online courses that universities no longer do. 

Other resources, like more access to counselors and mental health aid, have also come from the pandemic, but are not enough to satisfy students and increase enrollment at four-year universities. Now that the world state is pushing to return to normal, these institutions are doing the same. Although they should have followed suit and kept these resources in place like junior colleges have, they are more focused on the money they receive. Students should ultimately be prioritized, but have been left to face the ramifications of the pandemic and stand up for themselves when needing more accommodations.


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    The Highlander editorials reflect the majority view of the Highlander Editorial Board. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Associated Students of UCR or the University of California system.