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MU Enrollment Rates for Higher Education Teaching Programs Stay Steady, Despite Pandemic

This article originally appeared on KOMU 8 and is reprinted with permission.

Education programs across the country were presented with unforeseen challenges during the pandemic, in a career field that is already difficult to recruit for.

Despite these challenges, the University of Missouri’s program has not seen any impact on their enrollment numbers from the pandemic.

A survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that 19% of undergraduate-level and 11% of graduate-level teaching programs saw a significant drop in enrollment this year, according to the New York Times. 

Associate Dean for Student Success and Academic Affairs and Professor John Lannin said this is because of intentional outreach to prospective students.

“We’ve made intentional efforts to try and connect two very different school districts across the state and around the country some as well,” he said. “So we try and stay in touch with students, we’ve tried to do more to try and bring students to campus.”

Lannin said hiring a recruiting staff has been helpful in keeping numbers on MU’s campus healthy, but it is a much bigger problem nationally.

Lannin said there was a dip in enrollment across campus during 2015 and 2016, but since then, enrollment numbers have gone up fairly steadily over the past few years. He said the program sees a healthy enrollment of freshman yearly, who then go into professional programs as juniors.

“So two years ago, we had about 220 freshmen come in. But if you look at the junior numbers of people who are applying in the teacher education program, that was about 340,” he said. “So this past spring, of that group that came forward, so our numbers are still pretty strong, I think. And that’s been true for a while now.”

One MU education student said she has always known that being a teacher was meant for her.

“My mom’s a teacher and she really enjoys watching her kids grow,” Grace Williamson said. “And I think that I will also enjoy that.”

Williamson believes the lack of teachers in different communities across the country may open people’s eyes to how important their role is in society.

“I feel like in the past, they were in an underpaid and underappreciated job,” she said. “Maybe with less teachers, they’ll realize how much they are needed.”

“We want people to go into teacher education program wherever they go,” Lannin said. “Even if we have strong numbers here at Mizzou, that’s not solving our bigger problem in the state, or nationally.”

He believes recruitment is only a small part of the problems facing the teaching profession, but it is a good place to start.

“We need more teachers in the field, we need high quality folks working in the field, who care about the work that they’re doing,” he said. “And I think as a society, we need to continue to work on that.”

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