How Coronavirus Impacts Students’ Decisions on Higher Education

Virtual tours and delayed admission: how coronavirus impacts students

Princeton, NJ – March survey results by Thinking Cap Agency, a media partner for university enrollment marketing, show that coronavirus impacts students and their attitudes on what schools to attend. The study of 1,900 college students found that just over half (52%) of transfer students are likely to take virtual tours instead of visiting open houses on campus. This is a dramatic shift to virtual information sessions that is a new challenge for college and university recruitment. 

coronavirus impacts students

Timothy Gerstmyer, President of Thinking Cap Agency, believes that multiple factors are involved. “Fears of COVID-19, travel restrictions and, in some cases, even shelter-in-place orders are substantially altering the higher education enrollment landscape,” says Gerstmyer. 

Age plays a factor in the recruitment decision process. Thirty-nine percent of students 18-24 years old indicate that they are “likely to take virtual tours” instead of attending an in-person open house. This trend on how coronavirus impacts students increased with student age. Three out of five adult learners (post-graduate continuing education) are opting for a virtual tour. 

The study also found that coronavirus impacts students in that they are putting off school entirely. Almost half (46%) of undergrads are considering “taking some time off from school for a year or so”, given coronavirus. 

Gerstmyer says, “The reality is that life will go on after COVID-19. But when we look back at its impact on higher education, we’re going to see. This was the genesis of a major shift in not only how they recruit students, but with higher emphasis in overall online learning.”  

Numerous colleges are moving quickly to present themselves to prospects. Short-form storytelling is particularly successful, since screen time is rising rapidly as a result of school closings and social distancing. Coronavirus impacts students and colleges alike, but there are strategies. Thinking Cap’s U-Social™ program is especially well-suited to this targeted bite-sized virtual presentation. 


About Thinking Cap Agency 

Thinking Cap (TCA) is a collaborative media + content marketing agency that partners with colleges and universities across the U.S. for specialized enrollment marketing. We are a sister company of Refuel Agency, and majority owned by Prospect Capital (NASDAQ: PSEC). Leveraging over 30 years’ experience, we achieving positive results for individual university programs and initiatives. 

Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Christina OToole

Christina is a data-driven, full stack marketer with over 20 years success leading marketing in higher education, tech and publishing industries. She lead enrollment marketing programs for the both the University of California, Santa Barbara and UC San Diego continuing education divisions. Christina has developed hundreds of marketing campaigns and built all facets of programs including lifecycle journeys, creative direction and lead generation.