In early 2020, the sudden spread of COVID-19 changed everything. The way we work, the way we learn, and the way we connect with each other. With little warning, everyone was stuck at home. Places of business, classrooms, and recreational facilities were all closed. And high school students were scrambling to reassess their plans for after graduation.
According to a national survey from ECMC Group and Question The Quo, 29% of teens aged 14–18 said the financial impact of the pandemic made them less likely to attend a four-year college.
Instead, students became more open to other options. Since the beginning of the pandemic, one out of four high schoolers have said they are more likely to attend a career and technical education school—and 74% believe a skills-based education makes sense in today’s world.
But how could colleges and universities offering those skills-based programs reach these students? Thanks to the pandemic, their old ways of reaching high school students, including job fairs and high school visits, had disappeared.
At the Imagine America Foundation, we realized that we could use our unique relationships with career colleges and high school counselors for the benefit of both parties, not to mention for the students they serve.
We launched a series of webinars, hosted by college and university representatives, to connect with and educate counselors from local high schools.
The response was beyond anything we could have dreamed.
As the United States continues its successful vaccine rollout, there is an end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic. Its impact, however, is expected to ripple widely and to last long into the future. Colleges and universities must embrace this new virtual world in order to stay competitive in a sea of dispersed institutions offering virtual degree programs.