College In The Age of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 outbreak has high school seniors rethinking their college path and college students grappling with the effects of the pandemic. Get the facts here.

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College in the Age of Coronavirus

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, 1 in 6 high school seniors who planned on attending full-time college in the fall are now rethinking that path

Why COVID-19 Has Hit Universities Particularly Hard

  • Student Risks
    • Liberty University remained open as some students sickened
    • By April, a few students sued, claiming
      • “Liberty University is, in a very real sense, profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic — keeping its campus and campus services ‘open’ as a pretext to retain Plaintiff’s and the other Class members’… fees, despite no longer having to incur the full cost of providing those services, all the while putting students’ finances and health at risk”
  • Funding Woes
    • In March 2020, Congress allocated nearly $350 million of coronavirus relief to colleges with “significant unmet needs” ― BUT
      • Just 20 institutions received the majority of funds
      • Of those, the combined enrollment was less than 3,000 students
    • New Jersey is placing 50% of the funding for state colleges in reserve until September 30, the end of the fiscal year
  • Economic Uncertainty
    • American universities could lose 25% of international students
    • The US is projected to lose billions in revenue as a result of business loss
      • Best Case Scenario: -$77 billion
      • Worst Case Scenario: -$347 billion
    • As of April 2020, the official nationwide unemployment rate reached nearly 15%
      • BUT some experts caution that the true number is much higher
      • Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin acknowledged it may be up to 25%
        • Kentucky has the highest rate of unemployment: 36% 

“Colleges are prepared for dramatic, catastrophic events. What they’re not prepared for are drawn-out things that are less spectacular, but that really cannibalize their operations and their budgets.” – John Thelin, University of Kentucky Professor and Author of History of American Higher Education

Challenges For The Class of 2020

  • Psychological Effects
    • Quarantine may lead to effects consistent with PTSD and depression
    • Younger adults* have experienced a 10X increase in serious mental distress
  • No Physical Classes
    • May 2020:
      • California State universities announce fall semester will be entirely online
    • CSU is the largest 4-year public university system in the US, and undoubtedly their decision will be watched closely by other institutions
  • No physical classes means
    • Loss of nuance from in-person instruction and peer interactions
    • Missing out on “normal” social experiences and activities
    • Decreased opportunity for networking that could help build careers later

“A lot of places have the capacity to reopen in normal circumstances. But we’re not going to flip a switch and go from ‘everyone shelter at home’ to ‘everybody go back to what you used to be doing three months ago’” – Paul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University

  • Lasting Impact On Career Opportunities
    • Students without work history don’t qualify for unemployment
    • Worse, about 1 in 4 employers are revoking offers to interns

Graduating in a down economy comes with long-term negative consequences

Looking to the Future

By April 2020, 1.6 billion students saw their education interrupted, and there’s still no long-term solution in sightㄧPotentially the start of a long-term shift in how we view schooling

  • Changing Value of Education
    • Right now, the college experience is unrecognizable, but the price hasn’t shifted
    • In the future we may be asking, “Is it worth the same to graduate from an expensive college if you never stepped foot on campus?”
    • As a result, the value of traditional education may be fundamentally affected
  • Mixed-Location Classes
    • Some experts predict a surge in integration of in-person and online learning
    • Now, we’re learning what it is to live and work online ー and how convenient it is
    • Going forward, tools like Zoom and Slack may be crucial to a combination of online and in-person classes
  • A Shift Towards Innovation
    • Some teaching methods were old-school, based on outmoded technology
    • The pandemic is a catalyst to search for innovative methods, quickly
    • In China, 120 million students now access learning material through live TV

BUT students report feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and helpless

  • The Guide To Reopening
    • According to the American College Health Association:
      • Universities can anticipate changes for at least the next 12-18 months
      • Return to in-person activities will be gradual, and based on public health conditions and each institution’s ability to meet guidelines
      • Returning to a resemblance of the status quo will depend upon
        • Widespread testing
        • Continuing isolation of those exposed
  • Advice for Students
    • Look Into Online Learning
      • Instead of skipping a year entirely, consider a remote alternative
    • Transfer Your Credits
      • Research transfer guidelines or have an advisor check for you
    • Avoid Falling for Scams
      • Check the school’s accreditation, admission criteria, and reviews

We have a long way to go until returning to normal ─ if we ever can

Prepare yourself for the new reality of college in the age of coronavirus