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Urban News Staff Reports

March survey results by Thinking Cap Agency, a media partner for university enrollment marketing, show that the coronavirus is changing attitudes toward how students consider what schools to attend.

The study of 1,900 college students found that just over half (52%) of transfer students are likely to take virtual tours instead of visiting open houses on campus. This is a dramatic shift to virtual information sessions that is a new challenge for college and university recruitment.

Timothy Gerstmyer, President of Thinking Cap Agency, believes that multiple factors are involved.

“Fears of COVID-19, travel restrictions and, in some cases, even shelter-in-place orders are substantially altering the higher education enrollment landscape,” says Gerstmyer.

Age was determined to play a factor in the recruitment decision process. Thirty-nine percent of students 18-24 years old indicate that they are “likely to take virtual tours” instead of attending an in-person open house. The trend increased with student age with three out of five adult learners (post-graduate continuing education) opting for a virtual tour.

The study also found that some students are putting off school entirely. Almost half (46%) of four-year undergrads are considering “taking some time off from school for a year or so” given the current coronavirus situation.

Gerstmyer said, “The reality is that life will go on after COVID-19, but when we look back at its impact on higher education, we’re going to see that this was the genesis of a major shift in not only how they recruit students, but with higher emphasis in overall online learning.”

Numerous colleges are moving quickly to present themselves to prospects utilizing social short-form storytelling since screen time is rising rapidly as a result of school closings and social distancing.

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