Back-to-Campus and Coronavirus

Back-to-Campus and Coronavirus
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The big question facing college students, parents, faculty and staff, as well as marketers, is whether college will be back-to-campus this fall because of Coronavirus.

The answer is mostly yes. Most college and universities are expecting to offer in-person classes on campus this fall. Less than 10% of schools announced plans for online only classes. Students have expressed a dislike for online learning and schools are pressed financially to open.

Marketers should plan on students needing many of the same supplies and gear as in years past. Nearly 17 million college students enrolled this past year and most will be returning to campus this fall. Students will need to furnish their dorm room, buy supplies and adjust to a campus life with social distancing. Marketers need to be ready to help students move back to campus and adjust to the new normal

Exploring Back-to-Campus Opportunities during the Coronavirus

The question how and when to reopen campuses this fall now confronts higher education leaders. We took a look at some of the data affecting their decisions, how universities are responding, and the impact these decisions will have on student life and back-to-campus marketing.

The end of the spring semester came to a screeching halt for US college students. It’s been two months since students left their dorms on short notice and headed home. Zoom replaced in-person classes, leaving many students feeling short-changed, albeit healthy.

The pressure to reopen campuses could not be more intense. Most students were not satisfied with online learning, especially considering the cost. A recent survey by Kennedy & Company of students at 12 large universities found that 92% intended to re-enroll if instruction were held on campus versus only 63% if classes were offered fully online. A May survey by Carnegie Darlet of 2,800 college-bound high school seniors further highlights the pressure on colleges to open campuses. They found that 33% student would likely defer or cancel an admission offer that was conditional on attending all-online classes in the fall.

The same survey found that only 2% of high school seniors intend to delay their college plans, but that this decision could change if the college only offered online classes. Colleges are reacting accordingly. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that only 7% of colleges have announced plans to only offer online classes. The majority of schools, 66%, have announced plans to offer in-person classes, with the remainder considering a range of scenarios, waiting to decide or proposing a hybrid model.

Changes to the Back-to-Campus Experience due to Coronavirus

University administrators remain “cautiously” optimistic for the return of students in the fall semester and are making plans to adapt their campuses to accommodate social distancing. The only guarantee for students is that classes and student life will not be “normal”.

Adaptations that schools are considering vary widely. Notre Dame has announced an early August start date with the semester finishing before Thanksgiving. Some schools are shifting to smaller class sizes of 15-20 students per classroom. Others may change to a seven-day per week class schedule to better utilize the available spaces on campus. Aggressive hybrid approaches include holding classes primarily held online, with smaller sections of in-person meetings held periodically.

Students are adaptable and one expects campus life will adjust to the new normal. Please contact us for help planning your back-to-campus marketing campaign.

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