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HS Seniors Share Concerns in Survey About College Plans

College-bound high school seniors were asked to share concerns about college planning

College-bound high school seniors were asked to share concerns about college planning. Source: "Effects of COVID-19 on High School Students & College Choice" from Encoura Eduventures

Nearly half of high school seniors (45 percent) in a recently survey are at least moderately concerned that COVID-19 will force them to change their college choices, and eight in 10 (81 percent) have some concerns that COVID-19 might delay their enrollment. Yet 93 percent are even more worried that they've lost traditional high school events and activities.

Those findings grew out of an Encoura Eduventures survey of 7,117 college-bound high schoolers, 93 percent of whom had already been admitted to at least one college. The survey took place between March 27 and April 5, 2020.

According to Eduventures Principal Analyst Kim Reid, the students whose enrollment decisions could be most impacted were more likely to be first-generation, non-white and/or residing in a county that leaned Democratic in the 2016 presidential election.

The purpose of the survey was to help colleges and universities understand the immediate reactions students were having to current virus events. A report on the results offered multiple recommendations to institutions to help them prepare relevant responses, among them these:

  • Maintain calm.Students may be a bit worried, but they're not panicking yet. "The communication style that institutions adopt is critical," the report stated. "Offer a steady and calming source of support and information for students."
  • Don't change your tune. Students may have worries about covering costs or holding off on attending, but changing their choice "is not in the cards for many," the report noted. "Reinforce the strong value proposition that brought students to this point to choose your institution."
  • Go beyond virtual visits to help students. The report advised virtual options to help students "understand the curriculum and learn about student life, financial aid and career outcomes."
  • Develop financial aid strategies for students experiencing economic loss due to COVID-19. Those who have had job loss in their families were more likely to say they had a high expectation of delaying college enrollment. Therefore, they require "specific outreach," the report asserted.

"The greatest certainty in these uncertain times is that families are experiencing and will continue to experience financial instability. We may see some families rebound from initial losses, but we will see other families endure financial loss as layoffs move deeper into the economy," said Reid, in a statement. "We feel that institutions must be prepared for scenarios with increased financial pressure on families. This means moving beyond the immediate communication and yield efforts into discussions of sustainable financial aid and pricing strategies that will assist families in the difficult time ahead."

A webinar about the survey findings is available on demand with registration on the Encoura website, as is the report itself.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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