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Will You Withdraw If Your Current School Only Offers Remote / e-Learning Option for Fall 2020

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The coronavirus pandemic has caused a massive upheaval to education and many are questioning if there will be an online fall semester.

This spring, colleges started sending students home, and educators had to quickly pivot to online learning. Now, 75% of college students are unhappy with the quality of education they're receiving this semester, and there's a big question mark about the fall semester. 

Will college students withdraw from school if eLearning continues? 

To find out, we asked more than 1,000 current college students what they plan to do if the fall semester is also moved online. The results reveal that a large portion of students plan to change their education plans. 

What Will College Students Do if Classes Are Online in the Fall Semester?

The future of higher education classes is uncertain, and many are debating if students will return to campus this fall for in-person classes or if teaching and learning will remain online.

How are college students reacting to the potential of online classes this fall? 

We asked more than 1,000 college students who attend 25 colleges and universities across the U.S. While the majority of students plan to continue their college studies even if remote learning, a surprising 35 percent of students plan to withdraw.

remote classes or eLearning for the Fall 2020 semester

Do you plan to withdraw from your current school if they only offer remote classes or eLearning for the Fall 2020 semester?

  • Yes: 34.6%
  • No: 65.4%

Who Was Included in the Survey?

To understand the wide range of student perceptions, our survey sampled students in locations around the country. We included schools in coronavirus hotspots like NY and NJ, as well as lower-impact locations. We also included both public and private colleges.

The 1,038 students who responded to this survey attend: 

  • Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo
  • Florida State University
  • Indiana University - Bloomington
  • Michigan State University
  • New York University (NYU)
  • Northeastern University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Rutgers University
  • Temple University
  • University of Florida
  • University of California - Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
  • University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Connecticut (UConn)
  • University of Florida (UF)
  • University of Georgia (UGA)
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Kentucky (UK)
  • University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
  • University of Missouri - Columbia
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Virginia Tech

Why Will 35% of College Students Withdraw Because of Online Classes?

In an analysis of the free-response comments students made with their answers, we found a consistent theme. Replies were split with about half of students saying they'll withdraw because online classes are a poor learning experience. The other half say that online classes are a poor value. 

Here's what the students who will withdraw had to say:

Poor Learning Experience

  • Knowledge Retention: "I really struggle to learn from online classes, and I want to be able to actually retain what I do learn," said a University of Missouri student.

  • Concern About Grades: "Just from doing school remotely for a month, my grades have dropped significantly, and I do not learn well when not in a classroom," said a University of Cincinnati student.

  • Campus Facilities: "It's too hard to take all of my classes online. Especially if there are labs, it just wouldn't make sense, and I wouldn't be able to gain anything from it," said a Temple University student

  • Distractions of Home Life: "I have not received the same quality of learning since going online, and living at home is not conducive to online school — too many people, babysitting little siblings, bad WiFi," said a Michigan State student. 

  • Learning Experience: "I don’t mind delaying my graduation as long as I get a real, not virtual education," said a University of Minnesota student. 

Poor Value

  • Technology: "I’m not paying full price for YouTube university," said a Cal Poly student.

  • Out-of-State Tuition: "There's no reason to pay out-of-state tuition if I’m at home," said a University of Georgia student.

  • Campus Life: "A large part of why I go to college is about the college experience. I do not see why I would pay $15k to go to UMass Amherst when I can just take a semester off and take classes at my local community college online for much cheaper," said a UMass Amherst student. 

What Will College Students Who Withdraw Do Instead?

When students revealed their contingency plans, there were four common thoughts about what they'll do instead of attending online classes at their current school:

  1. Attend a Community College
  2. Take a gap semester
  3. Transfer to a school with in-state tuition
  4. Get an internship or job

For students who aren't able to take face-to-face classes, community colleges may see a bump in their enrollment as students look for a better value for their education. The majority of states offer free or reduced-cost community college

Why Will 65% of College Students Continue eLearning in the Fall?

For the majority of college students, plans to continue their college education remain, even if classes are fully online. Here's what they had to say: 

  • Goals: "This is my dream school; I’m not giving up on it," said a UCLA student.

  • Scholarships: "I have a full ride, where many of my scholarships are not able to be extended past four years, and I don't want to risk losing that money," said a University of Illinois student.

  • Logistics: "I already signed a lease down there for next year, so I might as well stay at VT. Also, if I transfer out, there is no guarantee I can transfer back in," said a Virginia Tech student.

  • Timelines: "I am a nursing major so I cannot withdraw from just a semester. I would have to take a whole year off since our classes are only offered In either the fall or spring, not both," said a University of Michigan student. 

  • Costs Less: "I will be able to afford the degree for cheaper since I won’t have to pay for housing, meal plan, etc.," said a University of Florida student.

  • Value of Degree: "Whether I’m in-person or online, I’m still paying to get the same degree. I also want to graduate on time," said one University of Wisconsin student. 

Learn about the free livestream tutoring that OneClass is offering to college students during COVID-19. 

image attribution: Svitlana -


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