College choice patterns shift as students contend with coronavirus pandemic

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As college students are set to return to classes this fall, new data shows more students are opting for in-state public institutions when compared with last year as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

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According to data from Eduventures Research, 6 percent more students said they planned to attend a public institution in their home state when compared with last year. Meanwhile, fewer students said they would be attending either a public institution in another state, which is down 5%, or a private institution, which is down 3%, compared to last year.

Researchers said this trend is not too surprising during times of economic uncertainty, such as the recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, top test-scorers remained more likely to choose elite institutions.

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Additionally, given that some colleges and universities have decided to begin the fall semester with online classes, proximity to home may have played a larger role in some students’ choices this year, researchers said.

“The travails of students making quick (and expensive) arrangements to return home from campus may have left an indelible mark,” researchers wrote. “We are seeing evidence in the comparative data of a ‘homing’ instinct, or a desire to be closer to home in case anything happens.”

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However, other surveys show that most students planned to continue on with their higher education plans despite coronavirus-related doubt.

According to a report conducted by Sallie Mae in partnership with Ipsos, the majority of students will not change plans for the school year. About 78% of respondents said they plan to return to their current school.

Most people also believe the virus will not meaningfully affect the student’s education in the long run.

And despite the fact that confirmed cases are still rising in many parts of the United States, 68% of college students and their parents feel comfortable with returning to campus.

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