Pandemic May Lead To Permanent Changes in Higher Education

Like many industries, higher education institutions were forced to adapt in the months and years following the COVID-19 pandemic. While progress has been made in the way of vaccinations and decreased infection rates, students are still likely to see changes to how colleges will operate in and out of the classroom.

What are some of these changes?

Students and faculty alike are likely to have more options when it comes to online work available to them. Colleges will keep providing work-from-home options for students and teachers whenever possible in order to address health concerns as well as a growing preference for online learning. Thankfully, the demands of the pandemic have forced many institutions to re-think the functionality of their online learning options, meaning online classes are significantly improved and more accessible than they were pre-pandemic. 

We’ve also seen more colleges expand their test-optional policies in the post-pandemic era, which may affect the future of college admissions long term. The number of colleges and universities that offer test-optional policies has nearly doubled since the pandemic began, and many highly-selective schools are joining in. While some of these policies have been temporary responses to the pandemic, it’s likely that many schools will adopt the policy permanently. 

Shifts in online learning and test-optional policies have also impacted who is able to attend a four-year college or university, meaning more diversity in college enrollment. As schools have seen a drop in enrollment, they’ve been forced to invest in recruiting more students, including those from backgrounds that might not have considered higher education as an option. Test-optional policies waived application fees, and programs for returning students will all have an impact on the types of students colleges will see on their campuses. 

Our forecast

We predict that many of these changes represent a new approach to higher education overall. It’s likely that the benefits colleges will continue to see on their campuses and in the classrooms will encourage them to hold on to these policies long after the pandemic is behind us.

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