Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Chris R. Glass

Committee Member

Kim E. Bullington


Higher education institutions world-wide were impacted by the unprecedented novel coronavirus (COVID-19) beginning in early 2020. COVID-19 caused a disruption in services to students and resulted in pivots of teaching, learning, and student support. Community colleges differ from four-year counterparts through varying student demographics, funding sources, mission and foci, and student intentions. Community college enrollment is affected by economic, employment, and social trends. Enrollment management practices changes as campus operations for student support changed to remote support. COVID-19 forced administrators at colleges to make quick decisions. This study examined the perceptions of academic administrators at rural community colleges regarding how COVID-19 impacted enrollment management practices.

This study aimed to determine the perceptions of changes occurring to enrollment management practices and the subsequent financial challenges resulting from COVID-19 within rural Virginia community colleges. Each rural community college in Virginia is included within the Rural Virginia Horseshoe, totaling 14 colleges. This study was a sequential explanatory study that was conducted in two phases. Phase One was a quantitative inquiry using a nonexperimental survey to gather mid to senior-level administrators’ perceptions of how COVID-19 was impacting enrollment management practices at their college. A total of 45 respondents completed the survey. The distribution included 102 mid to senior-level administrators. For the qualitative inquiry, the multiple case study research tradition was utilized. A total of 10 interviews were conducted with mid to senior-level administrators.

Five themes emerged from the findings: (a) COVID-19 led to crisis management and operations in phases, (b) managing student onboarding during COVID-19, (c) COVID-19 created unique challenges for community college students, (d) COVID-19 affected decision making procedures, and (e) COVID-19 resulted in work/life balance issues and COVID fatigue. Major implications in the current study suggest that colleges should be ready to pivot to remote instruction or back from it, review the onboarding processes and supports to ensure that they are adequately serving students, and advocate to reduce the digital divide.


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