The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a sea of change and transformation. Nowhere was this more keenly felt than in higher education. Against a backdrop of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, dire economic conditions, and even civic unrest, ensuring access to higher education has become a critical issue.
As we look back at 2020, we consider how this defining time in our lives will change higher education – and those who have access to it – forever.
Barriers to education take center stage
Even as many institutions pivoted to delivering online classes, going to college has become a huge risk calculation for students. Uncertain of their future and facing a loss of income, this predicament is likely to persist through 2021 and play havoc with institutions’ enrollment projections and cash flow. Last year, community colleges experienced a 19 percent dip in freshman enrollment and a 30 percent fall in the recruitment of underrepresented minorities.