PRESENTING: College students don't want to return in the fall, and it could cause many universities to collapse

Ruobing Su/Business Insider

Minh Phuc Tran, a student at the University of San Francisco, has been just about as present and involved in campus life as you can get.

His LinkedIn reads more like a Silicon Valley stalwart than a 19-year-old college student. He's founded clubs and non-profits while racking up scholarships and awards, not to mention his speaking four languages.

He also may choose not to come back to school if classes stay online next academic year.Advertisement

"My experiences with classes the past couple of months have not been so great," he told Business Insider.

He's found that once-lively seminars are less engaging over Zoom. And there are other practical complications that make virtual learning less than ideal — he had to move back home to Kentucky once the virus broke out in the Bay Area, so one of his night classes now ends at 11 P.M.

"For me, for college, you really have to be there and be present," he said. He chose his college partially based on location, so he could be in San Francisco and network.
Advertisement

"The dynamics now just aren't the same," he added.

Aakshi Agarwal, meanwhile, was supposed to spend her summer ranking possible law schools. The 21-year-old Yale student has just one more year left before she graduates, but isn't sure if she'll be taking classes in fall if the pandemic forces classes online. "It's really hard for me to weigh graduating on time versus all the experiences I was expecting to have," she said. Advertisement

She said everyone in her eight-person group of close friends is leaning toward taking leave for a semester or a year. She'd consider taking the online classes at Yale the coming semester if the school lowered the cost of tuition, but she already has plans to work on Telehealth Access for Seniors, the non-profit she started, and study for the LSAT if she takes a leave for the fall semester.

These experiences help explain why the US college and university system, a longstanding access point into adulthood and the middle or professional classes, is suddenly looking precarious.

The pandemic has exposed the harsh economic reality of the US higher education system, and it could be a breaking point for students and schools after years of mounting financial pressures, not to mention the debate over the benefits of a pricey degree. Advertisement

Schools need to prove that they can replicate the campus experience virtually in order to survive — and many may not succeed.

Subscribe to BI Prime to read the full feature.

Read the original article on Business Insider
{{}}