IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL CLASS BEAR BRUNT AHEAD OF FALL SEMESTER

COLLEGES FACE UNCERTAIN ENROLLMENT, ENDANGERING TUITION REVENUE

SCHOOLS ACT AS HUGE ECONOMIC DRIVERS FOR MANY COMMUNITIES

“HYBRID SEMESTER” OF IN-PERSON LEARNING AND VIRTUAL CLASSES LIKELY

Rob Franek, Editor-in-Chief of the Princeton Review talks about the challenges facing universities and students as they prepare for an uncertain fall semester. Colleges across the country are bracing for a drop in enrollment and subsequently tuition revenue, which Franek calls the “lifeblood” of most institutions. He also discusses what a fall semester might look like in terms of face-to-face vs. virtual learning, and predicts what the impact may be on college admissions next year.

Aired on May 21, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS' I'M JACK FORD.

AS OUR VISION FOR OUR NEW NORMAL BEGINS TO EMERGE ON THE HEELS OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, A FOCUS IS SHIFTING TO THE FALL AND TO THE WORLD OF HIGHER EDUCATION, QUESTIONS ABOUND, WHEN WILL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES BE OPENING AND IN WHAT FASHION AND WHAT IMPACT WILL IT HAVE ON ADMISSIONS OF THE ACADEMIC STRUCTURE AND ON THE ECK NOIMMMICS -- ECONOMICS THE WORLD OF HIGHER EDUCATION, HERE WITH US TO TALK ABOUT THAT IS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE PRINCETON REVIEW, ROB FRANKET.

HOW YOU DOING.

DELIGHTED TO BE WITH YOU THIS AFTERNOON.

LET'S FRAME THE CONVERSATION IF WE CAN, BY TALKING ABOUT THE STRESSORS THAT THE WORLD OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THAT THAT WORLD WAS UNDER, EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC STRUCK.

YEAH, I SO APPRECIATE THE QUESTION.

THERE ARE TWO, ONE FROM A COLLEGE UNIVERSITY PERSPECTIVE AND ONE FROM A STUDENT-PARENT PERSPECTIVE.

FIRST FROM COLLEGES IN GENERAL.

GOING BACK TO THE LAST RECESSION 2007-08 THOSE STUDENTS ARE FAST BECOMING COLLEGE-AGE OVER THE LAST COUPLE YEARS OF TIME, HOWEVER, THERE WAS A DIP IN THE BIRTH RATES SPECIFICALLY IN THE NORTHEAST AND MID-WEST SO MANY SCHOOLS ARE IN THE NORTHEAST AND MID-WEST AND THOSE SCHOOLS ARE ALREADY ANTICIPATING THERE WILL BE A DECLINE IN THE STUDENT POPULATION THAT THEY WOULD NORMALLY RECRUIT FROM.

THERE WAS INCREASE OR FLAT IN TEXAS, CALIFORNIA, ARIZONA, THOSE STUDENTS ARE THERE IDENTIFIED AS FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE AND LATIN-X.

SO THERE'S AN RECRUITMENT ISSUE SCHOOLS ARE DEALING WITH AND THEY'RE NERVOUS ON TAKING ON TOO MUCH DEBT TO PAY FOR COLLEGE SO THAT SPECTOR AND WEIGHT OF NAVIGATING SUCCESSFULLY THE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES OF COLLEGE AND STICKER COST TICKING UP.

WE'VE SEEN THESE QUESTIONS, YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT IT, I'VE TALKED ABOUT IT, I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO GIVE COMMENCEMENT SPEECH LAST YEAR AND TWO THIS YEAR GOT CANCELLED, WE'VE SAID THERE'S NEVER BEEN A GREATER VEHICLE FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SUCCESS THAN COLLEGE EDUCATION.

IT'S ALWAYS SO FRUSTRATING WHEN YOU HEAR PEOPLE QUESTIONING THE VALUE OF IT.

I COMPLETELY AGREE AND THE NUMBERS PROVE OUT ON THAT POINT, JACK.

YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I DO, STUDENTS THAT HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE, CERTAINLY, MINIMUM, $1 MILLION MORE THEY COULD EXPECT TO EARN, WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE, MORE NIMBLE, FAR LOWER UNEMPLOYMENT THAN STUDENTS WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE.

SO THE BENEFITS ABOUND, AS YOU KNOW.

SO TALK ABOUT NOW SOME OF THESE ADDITIONAL STRESSORS THAT ARE BEING PILED ON TO THE WORLD OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE IMMEDIATE IMPACT WHAT YOU'RE SEEING.

YOU FOLKS ARE THE EXPERTS OUT THERE, YOU LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE AND THE SMALL PICTURE SO WHAT ARE YOU SEEING IN TERMS OF A IMMEDIATE IMPACT.

COUPLE ISSUES FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS RIGHT NOW WHO WILL QUICKLY GRADUATE BY LATTER PART OF JUNE OF THIS YEAR, THOSE STUDENTS ARE BEARING THE BRUNT OF THE REPERCUSSIONS OF COVID FOR COUPLE REASONS, MOST STUDENTS WOULD HAVE EXPECTED TO RECEIVE THEIR LETTERS OF ADMISSION AS WELL AS FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE AROUND MARCH 15th, GENERALLY SPEAKING BETWEEN MARCH 15th AND MAY 1st IS WHEN STUDENTS WOULD SAY OUT OF THE NINE SCHOOLS THEY'RE ADMITTED TO THEY WILL ENROLL IN THIS ONE.

THAT JUST COINCIDED WITH THE SWEET SPOT OF COVID AND THE ENTRY.

SO THOSE STUDENTS ARE A BIT IN LIMBO.

OVER 400 COLLEGES HAD MOVED THAT MAY 1st DEADLINE TO JUNE OR BEYOND SO NOW SCHOOLS JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE ENROLLMENT NUMBERS ARE GOING TO BE.

FOR THAT CLASS THAT'S GOING TO COME INTO THEIR SCHOOL, MATRICULATE IN THEIR SCHOOL IN LATE AUGUST, EARLY SEPTEMBER THIS YEAR, THAT'S A TOUGH FINANCIAL MOVE AS WELL AS JUST AN ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVE.

IT'S VERY DIFFICULT FOR SCHOOLS TO MANAGE THEIR BUDGET AS WELL AS EXPECTED STUDENTS THEY DON'T KNOW WILL BE THERE.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE EKECONOC IMPACT.

PEOPLE LISTENING WANDER WHY IT WOULD HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC IMPACT.

TALK ABOUT SCHOOLS WITH ENROLLMENT ENDOWMENTS AND ONES DRIVEN BY TUITION.

YEAH IT'S A IMPORTANT DISTINCTION AND OUT OF 3,000 FOUR-YEAR UNDER GRAD STUDENTS IN THE U.S. THE VAST MAJORITY ARE TUITION-DRIVEN, RELIANT ON STUDENTS COMING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE OF THE SCHOOL, BUT ALSO THE DOLLARS THEY BRING IN FROM PARENTS AND KYLE CSCHOLARS.

FEW STUDENTS WILL PAY THE FULL STICKER COST ADVERTISED FOR THE SCHOOL BUT STILL SIGNIFICANT DOLLARS ARE COMING IN AND THAT'S THE LIFE BLOOD OF THE SCHOOLS ACADEMICALLY AND FINANCIALLY.

THAT'S THE DIFFICULT PART TO NAVIGATE WITH SCHOOLS.

SCHOOLS ARE ASKING THE QUESTION, NOT, IS COLLEGE WORTH IT, BUT, IS COLLEGE WORTH IT TO CONTINUE WITH AN ONLINE ENVIRONMENT AND MIGHT SCHOOLS BE DIFFERENT IN THAT CAPACITITY.

AND THE IDEA OF ENDOWMENTS, SOME SCHOOLS HAVE GREAT FINANCIAL WHERE WITH ALL.

BOWDEN $1.6 BILLION COLOSSAL ENDOWMENT BUT MOST SCHOOLS ARE GOING TO WEATHER THE STORM BUT THERE'S GOING TO BE SOME CASUALTIES.

WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION OF FOREIGN STUDENTS.

WE'VE SEEN SUCH A GROWTH OF THEM COMING HERE, IN PART THE IDEA OF GLOBALIZATION AND COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES NEED TO EXPAND THEIR VISIONS BRINGING FOREIGN STUDENTS HERE.

WHAT PROBLEMS ARE WE SEEING WITH FOREIGN STUDENTS COMING AND THE IMPACT THAT COULD HAVE ON THE BOTTOM LINE FOR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.

WITHOUT QUESTION YOU'RE RIGHT.

JUST INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN GENERAL COMING INTO THE CAMPUS, MATRICULATING IN THAT SAME TIME, WHAT A RICH EXPERIENCE THAT THOSE STUDENTS WILL BRING, NOT ONLY TO THEIR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE BUT TO THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHER STUDENTS AROUND THEM.

SO APPLAUD THOSE SCHOOLS WITH GREAT INTERNATIONAL POPULOUS.

THAT SAID THE REPERCUSSIONS AS A RESULT OF COVID-19 WILL WELL-LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF STUDENTS THAT MIGHT COME IN NORMALLY THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL CUE AND THERE'S A FINANCIAL REPERCUSSION AS A NOTED.

GENERALLY SPEAKING, MOST INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS MATRICULATING INTO THE U.S.

UNIVERSITY DON'T RECEIVE FINANCIAL AID.

NOW THERE'S EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE, HOWEVER, GENERALLY SPEAKING MOST DON'T.

SO THEY BECOME THAT MUCH MORE VALUABLE TO THE SCHOOL NOT ONLY AS A STUDENT IN THEIR DIVERSITY BUT ALSO THE DOLLARS THEY WOULD BRING IN TO REALIZE THAT SCHOOLS FINANCIAL WHERE WITH ALL.

AGAIN TALKING WITH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF PRINCETON REVIEW AND ONE OF OUR FREQUENT AND FAVORITE GUESTS HERE, HOW ABOUT THE IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY.

THERE WAS PRESIDENT OF BROWN UNIVERSITY WHO TALKED ABOUT THE REASONS WHY WE NEED IT TO GET OUR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES REOPEN, AND NOT INSIGNIFICANTLY IS THE ECONOMIC IMPACT THAT THEY HAVE ON THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES.

YOU LOOK AT A PLACE LIKE NEW YORK, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, YOU MENTIONED BOWDEN, I'VE BEEN UP THERE.

IT'S A WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL LITTLE TOWN AND IT'S IN THE CENTER OF IT.

HOW ABOUT THAT IMPACT OF WHAT COULD BE MISSING.

I TOTALLY HEAR YOU AND I SAW THAT OP ED AND HEARD BROWN'S PRESIDENT AN THE INTERVIEW SHE DID AFTER.

OH, MY GOSH, SO WONDERFUL.

WHAT I TOOK AWAY, YOU'RE RIGHT, COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ARE MAJOR, MAJOR EMPLOYERS FOR COMMUNITIES.

NOW THERE ARE SCHOOLS CERTAINLY WHERE WE LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY AND NEW JERSEY THERE'S OTHER INDUSTRIES THERE BUT MANY SCHOOLS READY SOLE SUPPLIERS FOR SIGNIFICANT EMPLOYMENT ACCESS DEM IB AND OTHER -- ACADEMIC OR OTHERWISE AND ARE THE LIFE BLOOD OF THE COMMUNITIES.

THIS IS TWO AND FOUR YEAR COLLEGES.

IT'S 20 MILLION STUDENTS MATT TRICK U -- MATRICULATING AND THAT'S $650 BILLION REVENUE GENERATED THROUGH THOSE SCHOOL ACTIVITIES AND FACULTY ACTIVITIES, HUGE DRIVERS OF EDUCATION AND REVENUE.

IT'S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO REALIZE IT'S NOT JUST STUDENTS GETTING BACK TO THE CLASSROOM BUT THE CASCADING EFFECT ON SOCIETY AND THE COMMUNITY IS SIGNIFICANT THERE.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST GUESS, WE'RE SEEING ALL SORTS OF MODELS BEING FLOATS WHAT IT WILL LOOK LIKE IN THE FALL WHEN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES DO EVENTUALLY COME BACK.

WHAT'S YOUR BEST GUESS TO THE MOST LIKELY MODELS WE MIGHT SEE?

I THINK THAT MOST SCHOOLS, BARRING THE CAL STATE SYSTEM THAT ANNOUNCED JUST LAST WEEK THAT THEY WOULD CONTINUE TO BECOME VIRTUAL AND THAT'S A GARGANTUAN SYSTEM.

BUT MOST COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES WILL ASSURE LIKE YALE DID, TO SAY WE ARE GOING TO BE OPEN FOR STUDENTS COME THIS FALL.

BUT THE TRUTH IS MOST COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ARE SAYING IT MIGHT NOT BE THE FACE TO FACE ENVIRONMENT WE EXPERIENCED LAST SEPTEMBER OR LAST AUGUST.

IT WILL LIKELY BE EITHER A DELAYED SEMESTER, THE TRADITIONAL FACE TO FACE SEMESTER MAY START IN OCTOBER RATHER THAN EARLY SEPTEMBER.

AND MIGHT LIKELY BE A HYBRID SEMESTER, MASHING OF CROSSING FACE TO FACE LEARNING AS WELL AS ONLINE LEARNING AND LIKELY A COMBINATION OF ALL THINGS.

I WOULD APPLAUD IT.

WE ALL WANT SCHOOLS TO OPEN FACE-TO-FACE AS IN THE PAST BUT THE LIKELIHOOD FOR IT TO HAPPEN IS FAIRLY SLIM FOR MOST SCHOOLS.

LET'S LOOK AT LONG-TERM IMPACT, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING IN TERMS OF CONCERNS OR AT LEAST VISIONS OF WHAT THE LONGER TERM IMPACT WILL BE OF THIS TURMOIL?

WE'RE LOOKING AT IT FROM A COUPLE WAYS, ONE FROM AN ENROLLMENT PERSPECTIVE.

LET'S FACTOR IT OUT.

THE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE SENIORS RIGHT NOW ARE ENROLLING IN THE FALL 2020.

AN ANECDOTALLY SOME OF THE STUDENTS AND FAMILIES ARE SAYING, OKAY, WE'RE GOING TO SIT OUT THIS SEMESTER AND THIS YEAR, FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY REASONS, TAKE A GAP HERE AND DO AN AT RUISTIC -- ALTRUIS TIC EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM.

THE OTHER SIDE, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THOSE SCHOOLS, IF THEY ARE APPLYING WITH CLASS 2021 NOW THEY'RE COMPETING WITH HIGH SCHOOL JUNIORS WHO WILL BE RISING SENIORS AND THAT WILL BE MUCH MORE COMPETITIVE IF YOU'RE A HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR LISTENING TO OUR CONVERSATION IT MAY BE THAT MUCH MORE COMPETITIVE FOR THE STUDENTS APPLYING FOR FALL 2021 ADMISSION.

AND THERE'S THE REQUEST OF SAT AND ACT.

TALK ABOUT THAT.

WE GOT ABOUT A MINUTE AND HALF.

LITTLE BIT MORE THAN A MINUTE.

I WILL ASK YOU REAL QUICK.

SAW THAT THE CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY SYSTEM SAID THEY'RE GOING OVER FIVE YEARS TO START TO PHASE THEM OUT.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE OF THE A.C.T.AND S.A.T S. LOOK LIK

RIGHT NOW, IF SCHOOLS REMAIN VIRTUAL THIS FALL THOSE WILL BE AT-HOME EXAMS SO THEY ARE NOT GOING AWAY.

PARTICULARLY NOW FROM STUDENT PERSPECTIVE THIS IS WHEN STUDENTS CAN DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES WITH GRADES PASS FAIL AND ALL OF THE STUD DISBANDED SO NOW YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO PERFORM SUPPOSE PER LATTIVELY ON THOSE -- SUPERLATIVIVELY ON THOSE EXAMS.

I CAN'T SEE ANOTHER WAY TO DISTINGUISH OURSELVES NOW, IT'S A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR STUDENTS.

THERE IS SUCH FACTORS TO PLAY IN TO ALLOW STUDENTS TO DIFFERENTIATE THEM SELF FROM OTHERS, BECAUSE AS YOU SAID THERE'S A LOT OF COMPETITION FOR THOSE SLOTS, MAYBE IT'S THE HEALTHY THING FOR THEM.

ROB, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO TALK WITH YOU, WE ALWAYS LEARN MORE WHEN HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH YOU.

CLEARLY THIS WILL ALL BE EMERGING AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO CHATTING WITH YOU DOWN THE ROAD AS WE GET A BETTER SENSE OF WHAT'S HAPPENING.

THANKS AGAIN, YOU BE WELL, TAKE CARE.

YOU TOO MY FRIEND, TAKE CARE, BYE-BYE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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