HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Northern Kentucky University freshman Jenna Reliford said she understands how it can be tough trying to make that switch from high school to college—especially during an ongoing pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • Research shows in-state college enrollment rates across the Commonwealth are down from about 54% reported in 2015 to about 50.5% in 2021’s report

  • NKU officials say they have about 4,800 of their students enrolled in their online programs

  • Officials say they’re optimistic about numbers of enrollment at campus remaining steady—with about 15,000 to 16,000 students enrolled at the university

  • Jenna Reliford, a NKU freshman, says she takes hybrid style classes to allow her to work and get the degree

Reliford said there are certain skills she’s picked up navigating the pandemic in high school that she’s taking with her to college.

“I think it’s tech-savvy and time management has been the thing a lot more since you’re learning and teaching yourself outside of class, so you have to balance everything,” she said.

Reliford is a Louisville native looking to further her education. Research from the council on post-secondary education shows that in-state college enrollment rates are down.

Numbers were reported to be around 54% in 2015, but 2021 reports show those numbers are now closer to a 50.5%, which shows a decline in enrollment across campuses in the commonwealth.

NKU’s Provost and Executive VP for Academic Affairs, Matt Cecil, said they’re monitoring NKU’s enrollment numbers.

He said one thing they noticed is that increase in online class enrollments over the last few years. Cecil mentioned that about 4,800 students are currently enrolled in their online programs.

He said all around, they’re keeping relatively steady numbers of enrollment with around 15,000 to 16,000 students enrolled with the university. He said they try to provide different types of classes for all kinds of students.

“Many of our on-campus students want a mix of courses. They want to take some courses in person, of course, and we’re glad. We think that’s an important part of an on-campus student’s experience. But there are certain types of courses they can take online and be a residential or on-campus student,” Cecil said.

That’s something Reliford said she takes part in so she can work and go to school in a solid balance.

“I take some online classes and some in person classes so it makes a balance out of like I’m working Monday, Wednesday, Friday and I’m going to school Tuesday and Thursday instead of just going to class every day,” she said.

Cecil said seeing that decline across Kentucky could impact the workforce—but he thinks education is key.

“I think people are rethinking a lot of stuff in their lives right now, and trying to decide the path forward for themselves. For many people, we think the answer will eventually be I need more higher education or more training of some kind,” he said.

Cecil also said he thinks legislators and other state leaders are remaining focused on helping education and the workforce.