Students in college work hard to get there and even harder to maintain high levels of success. COVID-19 has impacted their lives differently than those in high school or the workforce. College is a transformative experience for young people. A majority of the transformation doesn't come from the education portion of higher education. It comes from the connections students make and the soft skills they practice with peers and professors.
Parents and students view college as an investment. The time and money students and their families put into getting accepted into the top colleges and universities is substantial. Many costs go towards college education before their first tuition bill, including standardized test prep, tutoring, and the costs for extracurricular activities. These skills build the resume of students to earn acceptance into the school of their choice.
COVID-19 changed everything without much of a warning. COVID-19 is changing education. Students are changing their perspective on what earning a higher degree will look like. They have always examined the cost, time, and value of a degree, and looked for the best fit when picking an institution, but COVID-19 adds layers of nuance to those decisions.
On-Campus Learning Will Lose Part of Its Appeal
Location is an integral part of deciding what college to attend. Some students want to live close to home while others are ready for an adventure in a neighboring state. The decision looks different because of COVID-19 restrictions. Some colleges tried coming back but find it difficult to enforce proper safety measures and prevent COVID-19 hotspots. The coolest campus is less appealing if half of the buildings and amenities are closed.
A significant portion of learning for students has moved online. First-year students pursuing their bachelor's degrees are sitting in their dorm rooms instead of large lecture halls. The move to online learning begs students to question—couldn't I do this form home?
Students Will Pick Different Schools
The changes to college environments will invariably change the decisions students make. Even students in their late years might consider taking a gap year or earning credits at a local community college to save money on tuition or room and board. Since students are learning online anyway, they will look at online universities to earn online degrees.
Students may find it easier to find local universities where they can stay at home instead of wasting money on room and board.
Value vs. Cost
Most universities aren't reducing their tuition costs even though the learning environment looks completely different than previously advertised. Students are starting to pursue educational options that are cheaper but still meet the end goal of receiving a degree. Determining if the value of a degree from a particular university is worth the costs varies based on school, funds available, personal situations, and school location. The added nuance of COVID-19 is causing students to rethink their investments.
Adult students outside of the stereotypical college age are putting more stock in alternative forms of education that focus on building skills rather than core classes that create a "well rounded" education. Coding bootcamps and highly rated online certificate programs are gaining popularity as driven individuals weigh the costs and benefits of traditional degrees.
Online Learning Will Be the New Norm
Earning an education online will be a new normal as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Online learning was popular for non-traditional students before the pandemic. Current college students transitioned to online learning as campuses shut down and classes moved online. Being forced to learn online will change people's perceptions of this new method of learning. Students who previously wrote off online courses might find something they enjoy about them, offering them more opportunities to access education using different methods.
Students aren't the only ones affected by the change to online learning. Teachers adapted as well. They needed to learn the intricacies of teaching online and change their approach to best fit the new online model. This experience was often the first time teachers taught classes online rather than in person. Just like students, teachers are finding the benefits of online learning and might switch to teaching online as more students adapt to the format.
The Future of Education Is Changing
Education is a field that saw little innovation over the course of history. The industry was slowly incorporating new technology but wasn't working to drastically change the format of education. COVID-19 is the catalyst for moving education into the 21st century.
The Article is written by Artur Meyster