SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — Higher education in Utah will look different when college students return to in-person lectures this fall.
Social distancing will be in place, of course, but there may be more students overall when classes are back in session.
Emily Hernandez, 19, was in her first year at Salt Lake Community College when everything changed.
“Now that it’s not in-person, now I've got to start figuring out my way through online,” said Emily.
Emily enrolled in online summer classes, but she’s hardly alone. Enrollment is way up at SLCC, approximately 15 percent for the summer semester.
“We were trending quite a bit lower until two or three weeks before summer semester began, and then the phones just started ringing and applications started coming in online,” said Assistant Vice President of Student Services Curt Larsen.
Larsen suspects high unemployment and an unstable economy have people reconsidering their next move.
“I think people are trying to be proactive and take good measures to try to increase their skill set in an unsure period,” Larsen said.
When classes do get back in session this fall, class sizes could be limited. That’s the same with University of Utah.
“I think what you are going to see is fewer students in classrooms, more hybrid classes. With housing, we are working with a bunch of different scenarios,” University of Utah spokesperson Chris Nelson said.
Nelson said U of U also saw a jump in summer enrollment, approximately 10 percent.
While fewer students will be on campus but more taking classes online, Emily is encouraged.
“It's nice to see that students are wanting to get higher education and taking the time to get enrolled in college and try to start their careers or finish their careers,” Hernandez said.