Enrollment in education programs across the country drops, but not at UW-Whitewater

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 6:34 PM CDT
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WHITEWATER, Wis. (WMTV) - Enrollment is down 19% in undergraduate and 11% in graduate education programs at colleges across the country, according to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

However, it’s the opposite at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UWW). It’s seen a 4.4% increase over the last two years.

To get a better sense of why the UWW education program enrollment has gone up, NBC15 spoke with Katie Vogt and Jake Krueger, two secondary education majors at UWW. Vogt is a student teacher at Big Foot Union High School, where she teaches Social Studies and Political Science. Krueger is a Math and Computer Science student teacher at Whitnall High School.

“I want to help kids no matter what that looks like,” Vogt said. “Now that everything is changing, especially with the pandemic, I feel even stronger about it.”

Student teaching during the pandemic hasn’t scared these two from entering the classroom full time, it’s only encouraged them to work harder.

“I really love being that rock and advisor in the schools for students,” Krueger said.

As a Compu Sci-instructor, Krueger also mentioned that the pandemic has exposed a lot of equal representation for people of color and women in coding. Another reason he feels a strong calling to stick with his education career is to break down those barriers.

“Those issues are popping up more than ever and we’ve been seeing that in the pandemic,” Krueger said. “It’s really given us a chance to change that curriculum.”

Robin Fox, the Interim Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies believes the passion Vogt, Krueger and their classmates share could explain why the education program’s enrollment has increased this year, while many other programs across the nation are not gaining new students.

“I have found that the teachers have gone above and beyond, and I think juniors and seniors see that and think they want to do those things for others as they get older,” Fox said.

They can’t speak for everyone, but Vogt and Krueger want to influence their students, and encourage aspiring teachers not to give up their passion.

“There’s a lot of good stuff that’s going to come out of this,” Krueger said.

“I think this is a time we can make some change and I think we have some people who are willing to do that,” Vogt said.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison tells NBC15 their enrollment numbers for education majors have stayed about the same since the start of the pandemic. We’ve also reached out to Edgewood College and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville on their enrollment and have yet to receive a response.

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