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What Prospective Freshmen Think About the Fall

Their enrollment decisions and ability to pay have been upended. Their preference for being on campus, however, remains intact.


By Richard A. Hesel | April 30, 2020



In the past month, we have conducted two surveys to gauge the impact of the coronavirus on collegebound high-school seniors’ fall plans. Most students who want to attend a four-year college full time appear to be looking for a traditional college experience — living on campus, interacting with professors, studying and socializing with peers. But in our research, large majorities reject online degree programs as an alternative, and expect their preferred college to be open in the fall.


Yet the dreams of many students have been radically disrupted by Covid-19. Half of the students we surveyed reported a parent or guardian had lost a job, been laid off, or been furloughed as a result of the pandemic. And most expect to pay much less in tuition and fees if campuses do not reopen and they end up studying online. Put another way, if students’ see their dreams of college diminished or deferred, many will not be willing to pay the full costs associated with an on-campus experience.



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