Majority of Students Say COVID-19 Has Worsened Opportunities for Career Exploration

In new survey by Strada Education Network, undergraduates report cancelled jobs, internships, and less availability from college staff and faculty for mentoring in the midst of the pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Strada Education Network, a social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging pathways between education and employment, has released new findings from a nationally representative survey of more than 4,000 four-year undergraduates, which examines the impact of COVID-19 on their educational experience. 

This week’s analysis found that COVID-19 has worsened connections between education and work. Only about a third of students rate their institution as “excellent” or “very good” at helping students connect their education to meaningful careers — and 1 in 5 say COVID-19 has made their opportunities for career exploration much worse. Another 45 percent say such opportunities are “slightly worse.” 

More than a quarter (26 percent) had a job or internship cancelled, and another 27 percent who had been planning to pursue a job or internship decided not to.

At the same time, students say faculty and staff are less available for advice and mentoring, with 13 percent saying they are “much less available” and another 42 percent “somewhat less available.”

“Our surveys consistently show that work outcomes are one of the biggest drivers of value. And students are telling us that the pandemic is worsening connections between education and work,” said Dr. Dave Clayton, who leads Strada’s Center for Education Consumer Insights. “Strengthening those connections is, no doubt, challenging in this moment, but these data illuminate points of friction that colleges and universities can work to address. Today’s students will likely graduate into one of the most turbulent job markets in history, and they must have opportunities to explore what that means and to prepare.”

The findings show when students are supported in connecting their education to a career, they are more likely to say their education will be worth the cost  — with 83 percent of students who give their colleges an “excellent” rating for creating those connections saying their education will be worth the cost. Overall, however, career connections are weaker, and fewer than 1 in 5 current college students strongly agree their education will be worth the cost.

“In looking at what students are telling us, we can’t stress the importance of completion with a purpose enough,” Dr. Clayton said. “Ultimately, for the vast majority of students, the value of a degree depends on fulfilling their aspirations for successful careers.”

The Strada Student Viewpoint survey was fielded by College Pulse from Sept. 10 to 25 as an online survey from a panel of undergraduate students enrolled at four-year institutions. The survey was designed and commissioned by Strada Education Network’s Center for Education Consumer Insights, a research team that studies the experiences and perceptions of American adults in order to inform the development of a more education consumer-centered learning ecosystem. Strada Center for Education 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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