COVID-19 and Seniors’ Postsecondary Plans

Interested in learning more about how COVID has impacted seniors’ postsecondary plans, Oregon GEAR UP asked Metis Associates to explore these issues as part of the senior exit survey we administer each year. A total of 529 students from 17 of the 22 participating Oregon GEAR UP high schools completed the survey (37% response rate).

This blog presents findings from those analyses. The full report can be accessed here. In late fall, we will obtain and analyze college enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse. Students’ postsecondary plans—as noted in the senior exit survey—will be compared to verified college enrollment data.

Results displayed in the interactive graph below show how COVID-19 has impacted students’ postsecondary plans. Specifically, 22% of seniors reported changing their plans as a result of the pandemic.

  • Students who had “other plans” (e.g., missionary work, travel, gap year) or those who were planning on attending a 2-year/4-year institution[1] before COVID hit were impacted the most, with over half of students in each group changing their plans. Among students who said they had “other plans,” the most common reason for changing their plans was they decided to work instead. Among students who were planning on a 2-year/4-year institution, the most common reason for changing their plans was their decision to attend a 2-year community college only.
  • Students who were planning to attend a 2-year college or a 4-year institution experienced the least movement. About 16% of students who were planning to attend a 2-year college before COVID-19 changed their plans, with some deciding to work instead, and others unsure of what to do. And an even smaller proportion of students who were planning on a 4-year institution changed their plans, including some who said they were planning to enroll in community college first.

Use the interactive graph below to see how students changed their post-secondary plans for the fall before COVID (left column) and after COVID (right column).




[1] These students were either planning to attend a 2-year college and transfer to a 4-year institution afterwards, were undecided between a 2-year or a 4-year institution, or were in a dual enrollment program.