How Has COVID-19 Changed College? (infographic)

Ordinarily high school students across the world would be taking this time to prepare for college to begin. College students would be figuring out which classes they need to take next year. The pandemic has derailed traditional college education for many, forcing current students to complete their work online while simultaneously forcing prospective students to choose between starting college online or putting it off indefinitely. Students have a lot of tough choices to make, and it could end up reshaping higher education forever.

The Pandemic Has Hit Universities And Colleges Hard

Currently, one in six students who would have started college in the fall have decided to postpone the start of their higher education careers. This coupled with having to send students home early has led to major financial losses for institutions of higher learning, which still have staff and facilities to pay for whether students are there or not.

Some institutions, such as Liberty University, opted to keep students in classes to avoid refunding tuition and other fees, even as students became sick. Now there are lawsuits alleging this move was not in students' best interest.

In the United States, Congress provided $350 million in funding for institutions that were hit hardest by pandemic closures. Just 20 institutions received the majority of funds, and the combined enrollment for those 20 institutions was just 3000 students. While that seems like the opposite of intended purposes for those funds, larger institutions often have endowments and significant funding streams that can offset difficult times, whereas smaller institutions can't survive as long without funding.

Adding to the magnitude of the problem, international students are not going to be able to return to school next year, and a loss of a quarter of international students could mean a loss of $48 billion for colleges and universities.

Students Are Impacted Most Of All

Imagine trying to start your career and your adult life right now. It's already hard enough to get started, but now jobs are going away and many students don't qualify for unemployment because they don't have a work history. To top it off, many companies are rescinding offers for internships, often how students get their foot in the door of a career track.

The stress of this pandemic is adding to students' woes. Many are feeling stress levels that could lead to PTSD or depression once this is all over. What's more, not having in-person classes is a great loss for things like the nuance that comes from in-person interactions, networking opportunities that could help build careers later, and even many of the "normal" college experiences like meeting new friends you will have for life.

Students are having to make decisions about whether to continue to get credits online, whether to postpone going to school, and whether to take online courses at a less expensive community college that will transfer to a regular school once in-person classes resume.

No matter what decision students make, this pandemic will have a lasting impact on the trajectories of their future careers. Graduating into a difficult job market is one thing, but graduating into a full-on depression where you can't get hands-on experience for most jobs is going to deal a serious blow to these students.

Even though college is unrecognizable right now, in many cases the cost hasn't changed. This is leading students to question whether these sacrifices are worth the high price tag that comes along with them.

Students have a long road ahead of them. Learn more about the unique challenges of college in the age of the corona virus from the infographic below.

Students are scrambling to figure out what higher education will look like in the fall, and 1 in 6 high school seniors are changing plans to start college then. This infographic outlines the challenges to higher education, both from the student side and from the university side.

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