Study: More than half of high school seniors say pandemic influenced college choice


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About 56% of high school seniors said COVID-19 has affected their college plans, according to a study by LendEDU.

The education funding site conducted a poll in early June of 1,000 high school seniors and college students to determine how the pandemic has affected higher education.

COVID-19 affects college choice

Of the 56% of respondents who said, because of the pandemic, they made the choice to attend a college other than their first choice:

  • 20% said they chose a more affordable college, such as an in-state institution
  • 15% chose a college closer to home
  • 10% said they made their choice based on which school offered the most scholarships or financial aid to lessen the financial burden
  • 3% said they chose the school which clearly laid out plans to manage the learning experience during the pandemic
  • 8% said they were influenced but didn’t give the reason.

Many consider non-traditional path

Some graduating seniors are considering deferring college for one whole year, online school or community college.

Of those who have already committed to a college and put their deposit down:

  • 30% said they would consider unenrolling if learning stayed online
  • 11% said they would consider unenrolling if learning was in-person only
  • 5% said they would unenroll if there were no sports
  • 3% said they would unenroll for other reasons.

More: Many students must decide on colleges without a campus visit: How do virtual tours work?

More: McClure Foundation gifts free CCV course to all 2020 Vermont high school grads

Among high school students who have yet to make a decision:

  • 41% are considering an online college
  • 37% are considering community college
  • 43% are considering taking a gap year because of the novel coronavirus and its effects.

College students looking to change schools

Current college students are also assessing their future plans, some wanting to make a change.

  • 40% said they are considering transferring to a more affordable or closer college
  • 26% are considering enrolling in community college
  • 28% are looking into online schools
  • 34% are deciding whether to take a break from school.

More: Burlington college students move back to a city changed by the coronavirus

Contact April Barton at or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.

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