Leaders in higher education should not think of the recent surveys of worried students as fait accompli. There are solid strategies for persuading incoming freshman and existing college students to overcome their coronavirus anxieties and come to campus.
The surveys are certainly sobering. Some 42% of high school seniors told Plexuss that COVID-19 will affect where they enroll this fall, and slightly more respondents admitted to having second thoughts about the school they plan to attend. Other surveys show students having to think beyond themselves to consider capabilities of parents during a time of distress. Students are thrust into considering safety, proximity to home and cost.
Keep in mind that this sentiment is only a snapshot and will change as the pandemic continues to unfold. Yet, there is no going back. A new normal is emerging, and it will improve higher education and student expectations. Leaders can make the most of the pandemic by being proactive and persuading students of a better way to the future. Two thoughts to consider.
- New opportunities for students and employers can be offered through pre-enrollment career counseling. Be imaginative. What will students and employers want during a time of uncertainty?
- Embrace decisions by student to take a “gap” semester or year to let the dust settle. Use the time to create a stronger bond between the institution and prospective student. Institutions can provide pre-emptive career counseling along with more co-op arrangements with employers. This can be extremely beneficial if students are counseled appropriately.
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