New Survey Finds Americans Are Divided on Whether Colleges Should Be Allowed to Offer In-Person Classes This Semester

Even as beliefs about how colleges and universities will operate this fall diverge, Americans who have lost jobs and income report COVID-19 has increased their likelihood to seek additional education.

Indianapolis, Aug. 12, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Strada Education Network, a social impact organization dedicated to forging pathways between education and employment, has released a new analysis of its nationally representative Public Viewpoint survey on COVID-19 — finding that the enduring nature of the global pandemic is weighing heavily on many dimensions of Americans' lives, work, and education.

As many Americans expect a second round of stay at home orders, adults are now three times more likely than they were in the beginning of April to believe COVID-19’s impact will last more than a year (a shift to 40 percent from 13 percent). Workers who have already lost jobs or income due to the pandemic are more than twice as likely to say COVID-19 has increased their interest in education and training. 

At the same time these affected workers are looking to education, the public is evenly divided on whether individuals should be allowed to attend college classes in-person this fall. Less than a third believe that institutions will be able to keep their campuses open without disruption through the fall. 

“As we head into the fall, the majority of Americans remain worried about losing their jobs. Those who have already lost work and income say they are more likely to enroll in additional education or training as a path through the crisis,” said Dr. Dave Clayton, Senior Vice President at Strada’s Center for Consumer Insights. “But only a minority of them feel they have access to what they are seeking. Education, government, business, nonprofit and community leaders have to work together in a way, and at a scale, that our nation has not seen since World War II, when we needed to put millions of returning veterans, displaced workers and families on upward financial trajectories.”

While interest in education is up, significant concerns about value and access remain. Only about half of displaced workers are confident that additional education would lead to a good job (51 percent) or be worth the cost (45 percent), and only one-third of low-income disrupted workers say they have access to the education and training they want. 

Additional key findings from this week include:

  • The majority of employed workers (57 percent) remain worried they will lose their jobs.
  • More than half of students (56 percent) feel the value of their education will be lower this fall than what was provided a year ago.
  • Among students, 22 percent believe colleges should allow all students to return for in-person classes, while 52 percent favor hybrid options and 26 percent fully online.
  • For non-students, only 17 percent favor allowing all students to return for in-person instruction, 43 percent hybrid, and 40 percent fully online.

To date, over 15,000 Americans have been surveyed for the Public Viewpoint. The Public Viewpoint is produced by Strada Education Network’s Center for Consumer Insights, a research team that studies the experiences and perceptions of American adults in order to inform the development of a more consumer-centered learning ecosystem. The Center for Consumer Insights provides the nation's largest education consumer database, which includes more than 350,000 completed surveys about the education and work experiences of American adults. View the full Public Viewpoint findings at:


About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a pioneering social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy, mission-aligned investments and a network of affiliate organizations. Together, we work to create a new learning ecosystem that better serves the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at


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