For months, the US has been the hotspot for COVID-19 infections. By September 23, 2020, the number of confirmed cases had crossed the 7 million mark, according to figures shared by Worldometer. Even with this jaw-dropping number, the threat continues. Europe, which had already managed to successfully curb the coronavirus outbreak, began the next battle, as the second wave of infections swept the region.
COVID: A Challenge and an Opportunity for Educational Institutions
The pandemic has caused the biggest disruption in the education sector in history, affecting as many as 1.6 billion students across 190 countries, says a report published by the United Nations in August 2020. Amid lockdowns and social distancing, several schools, colleges, and other educational institutions have been forced to close their doors, which has impacted 94% of the world’s student population, the UN report goes on to mention.
On the other hand, the COVID-19 crisis has also disrupted businesses, resulting in significant unemployment. Against the backdrop, a large number of people are seriously considering furthering their education in order to improve their employability and job prospects as the economy recovers.
Thanks to technological advancements, students can now complete their college education from home, without having to risk being infected. Thus, the pandemic presents both a huge challenge and a massive opportunity for colleges at the same time.
Why 2-Year Colleges can Come Out on Top in the COVID Era
With e-learning, teaching is done remotely via digital platforms. The good news is that there are free or highly cost-effective solutions for conducting online classes and generally, these facilities are available to all. So, how do 2-year colleges have an advantage on 4-year colleges?
The Cost Advantage:
- The average graduate needs a student loan of more than $37,000. This is a great burden, which is around tenfold higher than 2-year college education. In the COVID world, financial factors have gained even more importance and could drive more students and families to consider 2-year colleges.
- Some people are looking to further their skills to gain a competitive advantage over other interview candidates or perform better than peers to hold onto their jobs. They seek career-focused vocational training, which is something many 2-year colleges offer.
- People turning to online education in the COVID world likely have not spent months studying for the SATs or entrance exams required for enrollment into four-year college education. With 2-year colleges having more relaxed eligibility criteria, more people can hope to make it through without all of the added stress.
The Time Factor:
- The pandemic is here and is expected to last for around two years, according to WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. This means that those who enroll into 2-year colleges today will be completing their course when the pandemic is said to be on its way out.
Some 4-Year College Advantages Have Disappeared:
- Four-year college education is typically focused on more rigorous academic coursework. This has become tougher in a remote setup. In the pre-COVID era, students enjoyed the exposure, interactions and facilities provided by campus life. With infections still rising, this is no longer the case and campus life has changed greatly.
With more students opting for 2-year educational programs, community colleges need to create enhanced communication strategies to get in front of their prospective students and families’ eyes. In fact, these 2-year colleges’ target audiences are no longer limited to just their community. Since their classes are being conducted online, they can reach out to students in any corner of the world.