Colleges that have been struggling to get their yield rate equivalent (or at least close) to last year’s may be in for a rude awakening.
SimpsonScarborough is releasing a survey tomorrow of incoming freshmen who aspired to attend a four-year residential college that finds that 40 percent of them say they are likely or highly likely to not attend any four-year college this fall. Further, 28 percent of returning students who have the option to return to their campus say they are not going back or haven’t decided yet. (Some of both groups of students may be interested in attending a community college.)
What’s in this post? Great question. For starters, it includes some absolutely heartbreaking quotes from people in higher ed. They cannot share their actual thoughts with their school leaders for fear of losing their jobs. Also, because I’ve been posting these all over Twitter, it seemed fair to include my action items for what higher ed should do to change course immediately. Lastly, I’ve added some amazing excerpts from higher education presidents/leaders who have made the right decision for the fall. Because there’s very little time left, I’m not going to bury the overall lede any further:
For the collective well-being of people in this country*, higher education institutions must not reopen this fall.
ITHACA, N.Y. — As the COVID-19 pandemic carries on into its sixth month, and with the beginning of the fall semester just on the horizon, concerns have been growing about how exactly Cornell University — which attracts roughly 30,000 students, staff and faculty to the Tompkins County-area each year — will be able to bring those people back safely.
Syracuse, N.Y. — Parties are part of the culture at Syracuse University, a point of pride for many. In a pandemic, they are also a problem. “The idea of packing a couple hundred kids yelling, screaming, laughing, dancing, creating party plumes, is a horrible, horrible idea,” said Dr. Stephen Thomas, an infectious disease specialist at SUNY Upstate Medical University. “That is just a horrible idea. There is no better way to get a campus shut down than to do that.”
Syracuse, N.Y. — Less than a week after officially welcoming its first students back to campus, Syracuse University has placed a group of students on interim suspension for violating the state’s mandatory quarantine rules, the school said Thursday.
Frustrated with their university’s plans for fall, including full dorms, UNC Chapel Hill professors tell students to stay home. Many professors think their institutions’ fall reopening plans are foolhardy, dangerous or even unethical. But a group of tenured faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took the unprecedented step Friday of directly telling students not to come back to campus next semester.
Students considering sitting out the fall semester because of the pandemic risk losing guaranteed on-campus housing when they return to colleges with strict leave-of-absence policies. As colleges unveil plans for a fall semester during the coronavirus pandemic, some students have decided to put their education on pause and take a voluntary leave of absence for the semester or the entire academic year while they wait for college life to return to normal.
As fall semester approaches, students are increasingly opposing liability waivers and “informed consent” agreements required by colleges as a condition of returning to campus.By
August 3, 2020
Maria Gray, a rising junior at Bates College, said she was “on the fence” about returning to the campus in Lewiston, Me., to take classes in person this fall because of the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Bates plans to offer smaller class sizes for face-to-face instruction. The liberal arts college will also allow students back into residence halls closed last spring because of the pandemic, which Gray believes to be “an objectively bad idea.” But it wasn’t until she viewed Bates’ “Acknowledgement of Shared Responsibility and Risk” agreement, which all students returning to campus are asked to sign, that Gray decided an in-person college experience wasn’t for her this semester.
Facing a potentially steep financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Millersville University has notified faculty of potential layoffs through a process known as retrenchment, joining nine of its sister institutions that have already done so. Millersville University President Daniel Wubah announced the move early Friday evening in an email to the campus community. In it, he cited a projected revenue shortage that has been felt by each of the 14 universities within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education since the pandemic began earlier this year.
With T-minus one month until fall, faculty groups in new coronavirus hot spots are asking their institutions to go all in on remote instruction. Some institutions in one-time virus hot spots are also facing challenges getting their instructors to teach in person. Perhaps nowhere is faculty anxiety greater than in Florida, which set — and broke — new state records for single-day coronavirus deaths this week. Intensive care units at hospitals there are reportedly close to capacity.