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Colleges Considering Multiple Scenarios For Fall 2020 Semester

May 7, 2020 Charlene Sterphone

Shutterstock_1676998303 High angle view of video conference with teacher on laptop at home. Top view of girl in video call with personal tutor on computer listening audio course, distance and e-learning education concept.

The world of higher education has evolved dramatically since social distancing regulations were put in place in March, with nearly all college campuses shutting down and shifting to online learning formats. With the spring semester quickly wrapping up, plans for the fall semester are a major focus for higher education employees, incoming students and parents. As state-specific social distancing regulations change day by day, higher education institutions are actively considering multiple scenarios for what the fall semester may look like.

New Poll Suggests Parents Have Significant Concerns Around An Online Fall Semester

According to an April survey of 464 parents of high school seniors and current college students, 35% of respondents were unsure of whether they would continue their children’s education at their current institutions if only online programs are offered in the fall, while 7% indicated that their children definitely would not return to the same college for a fully online fall semester. For parents of high school seniors specifically, 10% said they would not send their children to colleges only offering online programs in the fall. When parents were asked what would help them feel more amenable to online learning, 23% indicated that they would only be comfortable with significant improvements in education quality, while 44% shared they would feel more comfortable with a meaningful reduction in tuition price. 

Colleges Continue To Weigh Options For Fall Semester As Regulations Evolve

Shutterstock_712426846 Fall is beginning of the student's semester, leaf and boot on table

With state-specific regulations changing so quickly, many higher education institutions are still in the midst of determining their plans for the fall semester. Although plans and preparations for the fall remain fluid, some colleges have shared their inclinations. San Jose State University and Cal State Fullerton, both part of the California State University system, shared that they are actively preparing for the possibility of a virtual fall semester. Meanwhile, Purdue University published a letter from President Mitch Daniels, stating, “Purdue University, for its part, intends to accept students on campus in typical numbers this fall, sober about the certain problems that the COVID-19 virus represents, but determined not to surrender helplessly to those difficulties, but to tackle and manage them aggressively and creatively.” Purdue plans to explore separating students by age and vulnerability and limiting class sizes to preserve an on-campus fall semester. Other institutions, like Macalester College in Minnesota, have raised the possibility of a delayed start (potentially as late as November) for an on-campus fall semester, while Center College, in Kentucky, announced plans for a “block” semester, splitting the term into two blocks, designed to facilitate switching between online and on-campus instruction.

Although there are many possible options for the fall 2020 semester, each school must make its own decision regarding what will work best for the school and the student population. Schools planning to leverage online formats should plan to focus on and showcase the quality of their programs to help alleviate potential student and parent concerns, and those planning for on-campus semesters must prepare to have the appropriate safety measures in place. By keeping the needs of students at the forefront, higher education institutions can focus on delivering the best student outcomes, both short- and long-term, regardless of the mode of learning.

Are You Looking To Connect With Prospective High-Intent College Students At Scale?

DMS EducationTM is a thought leader in education and martech-enabled digital media distribution. Through our support of traditional and for-profit colleges, trade schools, community colleges, boot campus, continuing education providers, OPMs and agencies, we have seen it all. Led by industry veterans and dating back to our founding in 2002, DMS Education provides predictable, scalable and reliable education marketing.

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About the Author

Charlene Sterphone

Charlene Sterphone, Director of Marketing A focused and highly motivated creative thinker, Charlene Sterphone develops, executes and reports on strategic marketing programs surrounding lead generation, paid search, email, social media, mobile targeting, SEO and compliance as Director of Marketing for Digital Media Solutions (DMS). Throughout her diversified marketing career, Charlene has spent time in both the agency and direct corporate and start-up settings, including positions at Sparkroom, Education Dynamics and CBS Corporation, where she has seen success with digital and traditional marketing campaigns. As an analytical marketer, Charlene enjoys discovering new and innovative tools and techniques and using them to drive growth.

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