Will incoming college freshmen opt to stay closer to home this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic?
Early enrollment data from a handful of US colleges suggests that may the case.
According to a recent article from the Associated Press (AP), commitments from in-state students have increased by 26 percent at the University of Texas at Arlington, 20 percent at The Ohio State University, and 15 percent at Michigan State University.
“Students want to be closer to home in case an outbreak again forces classes online,” the article notes. “Some are choosing nearby schools where they’re charged lower rates as state residents.”
Lizzie Quinlivan, a student from Massachusetts, originally planned to attend the University of Southern California. The coronavirus changed her mind.
“Anything that required a flight was suddenly off my list,” the high school senior told the AP. “I completely crossed off all California schools and even Midwest schools because of the pandemic.”
Colleges won’t know the virus’ full impact on enrollment until the fall. Some students have paid deposits at multiple schools to keep their options open amid the uncertainty, according to the article. And colleges say the recent changes to NACAC’s code of ethics have opened the door for their competitors to keep making offers to students throughout the summer months.
“A picture that looks good today can look really bad tomorrow,” said Jace Lux, enrollment director at the Western Kentucky University, where in-state enrollments are up 20 percent. “Enrollment across the country is precarious right now, and if this thing takes a turn that we weren’t expecting, then all bets are off.”
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