Class Of 2021 Saw Drop In SAT Test Takers

College Students Changed Course After COVID-19. Here’s How

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how college students plan for their careers post-graduation.

A recent report conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse and presented by Kaplan surveyed 2,000 incoming sophomores, juniors, and seniors on the impact that the pandemic had on their career plans and how well college and university career centers met their needs during a time of major disruption. Student data were collected from August 18 to August 25, 2021, and was weighted to be nationally representative of two- and four-year college student populations.


The pandemic has impacted the timing for when students plan to graduate. According to the survey, one in four students report graduating earlier or later than planned due to the pandemic.

For some students, campus closures played a role in their timing for graduation.

“Classes that I need to graduate (ex: Modeling and Texturing I) had to be delayed because I lacked the technology needed to run the required 3D modeling software remotely,” a student respondent from UT Dallas says. “Before, I relied on using the university’s computer labs. Without access to the labs nor a computer that could remotely connect to the labs, I had no choice but to delay taking these classes. This unfortunately messed up my schedule and will delay my graduation.”

For other students, the pandemic placed a greater importance on mental health.

“The pandemic pushed back my expected graduation date,” a student respondent from Colorado State says. “After a tough 2.5 semesters completely online. I decided I needed to cut back on my course load to focus on my mental health. However, I did not want to step away completely so this means for the next 2 semesters I will only be attending CSU as a part-time student.”


As students had more time away from campus to reflect on their plans beyond college, many made the decision to switch their course of study—roughly 17% of students surveyed reported changing their academic major at least in part because of COVID-19.

“Being alone most of the time made me realize that I may not want to pursue the major I was going to do,” a student respondent from Moraine Valley Community College says. “I also realized how money is very tight at this moment, so I should do a program that is cheaper and faster. I want to get a job as soon as possible, but I would like to finish school first. Initially, I wanted to pursue nursing but with everything that is going on, I would like a career where I am more one on one with someone than by being around numerous people.”

“I was set to graduate as a sociology major and anthropology minor in spring 2021,” a student respondent from the University of South Florida says. “During COVID I thought about entering into the workforce in the digital world and how hard it would be to find an entry-level job in my career. I decided to stay in undergrad another year transitioning my minor to a major.”

See the full report here.

Sources: College Pulse, Inside Higher Ed

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