PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The pandemic accelerated pre-existing trends in higher education. Before the coronavirus disrupted everything, there were 9 straight years of decline for undergraduate enrollment.

There are a number of factors at play. The student debt crisis didn’t help as students are questioning the value of school as costs rise. The path to a skills program such as a technical college have become more valuable in this time.

Two of the largest universities in Oregon report modest rising enrollment numbers this academic year.

For the 8th straight year, Oregon State University has the most students in the state — 34,108. This year the enrollment was up 748 students (2.2%) over last year.

It’s a mixed bag at the University of Oregon. They have not had the same growth but they do have 500 more students this year than last. However, they’ve seen their enrollment numbers steadily decline over the last 5 years.

Jon Boeckenstedt, the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Oregon State, said they’re getting with the times and bolstering their e-campus.

“Most of the students who are housed at and live on our Corvallis campus will have taken e-campus classes, so they were very comfortable with the format,” he told KOIN 6 News. “Going to online learning wasn’t something new and different to them so we made that switch, that slide, to complete online learning pretty easily.”

The future of e-learning, he said, is unlimited. People who are place-bound can access schooling in a way they never have before. The pandemic taught us there are no limits to how we can adjust.

Canvas is a massive web-based teaching and learning support program. Many students who attended classes online have used Canvas. Ryan Lufkin, their VP of Marketing of Instructure, said the future of education looks different.

“The days of the 300 plus lecture hall, where the engagement between the student and the teacher was almost nonexistent, are gone hopefully,” Lufkin said. “Those courses can be taught online, more flexibly, with a higher level of engagement than you would see otherwise.”

He also predicts more lifelong learners, people who will go back to school to get degrees or certificates to bolster their skill set.

Some employers are already ditching the 4-year requirement. Google offers certain positions that will train you internally to work as a coder for the company — with no bachelor’s degree needed.