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Enrollment rebounds as pandemic recovery continues

In early 2020, Rebecca Hall was finishing her Associate in Arts and getting ready to begin the pre-requisite biology and chemistry classes she needed to enter Yakima Valley College’s nursing program.

But the onset of the COVID pandemic put those plans on hold, as the mother of three shifted her focus to supervising her children’s learning as their schools moved online.

“In March of 2020, I had a fifth grader, a second grader and a preschooler,” Hall said. “I knew I needed to be home with them and I didn’t go back to school myself. Even after schools started opening back up, it was still so in and out for them. So, I was kind of paralyzed until I knew things had settled down.”

Hall finally resumed taking classes in Spring Quarter 2022 on the Grandview Campus and after completing one more class this summer, she’ll be ready to apply for admission into YVC’s nursing program during fall quarter.

Hall is one of many YVC students who resumed their education over the past year as the disruptions brought on by COVID have gradually ended. The college’s return of full in-person operations on its campuses during Fall 2022 has contributed to a surge in enrollment.

“I really was waiting for everything to open up again because I enjoy taking classes in person.” — Rebecca Hall, Student

Overall enrollment was 24.7% higher in Spring 2023 compared to Spring 2022, continuing an upward trend that started in the fall. Enrollment in YVC degree- and certificate-granting programs was up 20.9% in Spring 2023 from the previous year, while enrollment in College and Career Readiness programs (which includes adult basic education, high school completion and English Language Acquisition classes) increased by 52%.

In addition to the return of more in-person classes and services on the Yakima and Grandview campuses, the college has also reopened its learning centers in Toppenish and Ellensburg during the past year, restoring much-needed services for local communities.

While the college gradually added more in-person classes during the 2021-22 academic year, a majority of classes were still taught online. During the 2022-23 academic year, however, close to two-thirds of classes were either fully in-person or hybrid, with a mix of in-person and online instruction.

That return to in-person instruction was important for many students, including Hall.

“I really was waiting for everything to open up again because I enjoy taking classes in person,” she said. “I knew that I was a hands-on person and just learning the material online and reading about it wasn’t going to be best for me. Dr. [Stephen] Kenny has labs for us where do experiments and that experience was really important to me.”

Online classes and services continue to be offered for individuals who find that option works best for their situation, and Jennifer Ernst, vice president of instruction and student services, said the pandemic presented the college with a learning opportunity.

“YVC serves a very diverse community and we want to support everyone who is looking to advance their education,” Ernst said. “Over the past three years, we’ve learned and experimented with new ways to teach and serve our students. That’s given us an opportunity to strengthen the quality of education we provide to the Yakima Valley.”

Student at laptop outside while another student looks over shoulder
ABOVE: Sunnyside High School student Kellee Fox answers questions during a workshop held for an Agriculture Open House on YVC's Grandview campus in March 2023. TOP: Students study in Sundquist Hall in May 2023.

Students wanting to start or continue their educational journey at YVC can get started now. The application deadline for degree/certificate-seeking students looking to enroll in Fall Quarter 2023 classes is August 7.

YVC will hold several Express Enrollment Days this summer where new students can get one-on-one assistance completing their application, applying for financial aid, registering for fall classes and learning how YVC’s academic pathways can help them reach their career and education goals. No appointment is needed to participate.

Express Enrollment Days – Yakima Campus (South 16th Ave and Nob Hill Blvd)

  • June 22 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Deccio Higher Education Center (Building #8)
  • July 20 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Deccio Higher Education Center (Building #8)
  • August 3 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Deccio Higher Education Center (Building #8)

Express Enrollment Days – Grandview Campus (500 W. Main Street)

  • June 21 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Grandview Main (Building #56)
  • July 19 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Grandview Main (Building #56)
  • August 2 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Grandview Main (Building #56)

Those participating in an Express Enrollment Day should arrive by 5 p.m. if they need to complete both their application for admission and an application for financial aid. Fall Quarter classes begin September 18.

Non-degree/certificate-seeking students can register for Fall Quarter 2023 classes September 11 – 15.