Improved Communication, Transparency and Social Support Sorely Needed for Student Success
Boca Raton, Fla. — November 19, 2020 — Anthology, a leading provider of proven higher education solutions that support the entire learner lifecycle, today announced the findings of its Pandemic College Student Experience Survey. The study was designed to help higher education institutions understand student sentiments as they relate to academic and co-curricular experiences during the pandemic. More than 1100 current college students – including both undergraduate and graduate – were surveyed to gain insights into key implications for student success and retention.
“As institutions look to put their best foot forward for the Spring semester, it’s imperative for them to understand students’ shifting sentiments and identify how to best meet their needs given the pandemic’s impacts on academics and campus life,” said Jim Milton, CEO of Anthology. “The survey findings clearly indicated that institutions can help improve student satisfaction by improving communication and helping them maintain a sense of connection to the campus, regardless of whether they are currently living on campus or thousands of miles away.”
Re-Enrollment Intent Holds Strong Despite Lower Satisfaction Levels
While COVID-19 has had a major impact on the overall college student experience, the study’s findings showed that most students plan to return to their current institutions. In fact, nine out of 10 respondents indicated a likelihood to re-enroll at their same college. This is a strong statistic, given that one in three students expressed dissatisfaction in academic courses, communications, student services and the institution overall. Student satisfaction with institutions’ communication took an especially hard hit as 35% of students are now dissatisfied compared with 13% prior to the pandemic.
Opportunity to Refine Pandemic Response Plans
Another key finding from the study was that student respondents had varying opinions on whether their respective campuses’ pandemic plans struck a balance on risk. One out of three students felt their institution’s plan was too risky, while half felt their campus’s plan was “just right.” This indicates continued opportunity for institutions to refine pandemic response plans.
Students’ Ability to Pay for Education is a Major Concern
The survey also showed that the financial impacts of the pandemic have taken a significant toll on college students, with 68% of overall respondents indicating a concern about their ability to pay for their education. The findings showed even higher numbers for non-white students (73%) and first-generation students (77%).
Housing Location Impacts Virtual College Experience
Students’ living locations had an impact on their overall experience during the pandemic. For those who originally lived on or near campus but moved away during the semester – 12% of respondents – say their likelihood to re-enroll was far lower and they reported the poorest student outcomes and lowest satisfaction rates. Conversely, 46% of students who lived away from campus reported higher satisfaction and slightly better student success outcomes, and 42% of students who lived near campus were more likely to feel included in a circle of friends and were slightly more likely to feel a part of their campus community.
Social Support Sorely Needed for Student Success
Since the pandemic, institutions have struggled to meet students’ social interaction and support needs. Overall, 25% or more of respondents indicated an unmet need for having a good college experience. Their lowest scores focused on co-curricular areas of student life, which include experiencing meaningful ways to be involved on campus, feeling like a part of the college community and having a circle of friends at their institution. Open-ended statements by respondents showed that the common student experience could be improved with offerings like free virtual counseling, academic and social support services and mentoring, individual time with faculty, and meaningful social activities and leadership opportunities.
Anthology’s Pandemic College Student Experience survey targeted U.S. undergraduate and graduate students at universities and colleges nationwide. Data was collected through a nationwide survey in October 2020 using a national survey platform. 1,143 responses were considered valid and used in the analysis. For more detail on the survey findings, please visit Anthology’s full report here.