Back to School?

What does the future of higher education look like in the U.S.?

As coronavirus cases increase, schools are considering different approaches to the fall semester.

Some, like California State University, have decided to move fully online. Others are planning to bring students back to campus but with accelerated semesters that end before an anticipated second wave, like the Universities of Virginia and North Carolina. Still others are adopting block scheduling, where students live and take classes with a small cohort. The University of Texas at Dallas will let students choose.

But even for schools that decide to bring students back in the fall, campus life is going to look different, with social distancing in dorms and plexiglass barriers in the classroom.

What does this mean for students? One-in-three are considering transferring if their college is remote in the fall. They also expect lower tuition for online learning.

At the same time, the pandemic has interrupted administration of the SAT and ACT exams, leading the University of California to phase out these tests from its admissions process. The elimination of these tests— long accused as racist— could help diversify college classes.

But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the economy, more than half of college students report they can no longer afford the cost of returning in the fall.

And with 69% of Gen Z African Americans reporting they’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19— 34% of whom have lost their jobs—Black Americans could face bigger barriers to higher education than ever.