August 14, 2020
After the longest Spring Break in history, education is back to some semblance of normal but the pandemic has put plans on hold for many, especially those in college. There have been questions about refunds of tuition, changes in transfer options, cancellations for overseas exchange students, and taking a gap year.
We saw gap years for many during the oil boom and, traditionally, college enrollment increases when booms end. Predictions are not so positive this year.
What about those student loans? If not enrolled at least half-time, the repayments begin in 6 to 9 months.
So, how are colleges planning to reopen? Changes will include the CDC guidelines for physical distancing, and personal protective devices will be mandatory on most campuses. Some will choose a hybrid approach with two or three days on-campus attendance and the rest by virtual instruction. Lower physical presence is to be expected as some institutions will go completely online.
If student revenue drops, so do budgets and federal and state funding as well. Predictions are that some institutions may not weather the storm, closing entirely or merging with others as is the case with public school consolidations. That may not be all bad if it leads to a better outlook for the future. Innovation in the classroom, including implementation of more virtual experiences and even artificial intelligence, may lead to automated grading. Smaller staffs will result as positions may not be filled.