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How the Pandemic is Changing Higher Education for the Better

June 12, 2022

The following op-ed was published by the Los Angeles Times on June 12, 2022.

By Stephen J. Handel and Eileen Strempel

During college graduation season, it’s easy to get swept up by the notion of the great promise of higher education, even if recent statistics tell a different, more sobering story.

The public’s view of the value of a college degree has continued to decline, shockingly so. Only about half of 1,060 high school students surveyed in January say they want to earn a four-year degree. And enrollment — already predicted to sag throughout this decade — has fallen scarily in the last two years in almost every postsecondary sector.

Since the pandemic hit more than two years ago, 1.4 million students who were registered for college have dropped out, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. Perhaps even more disturbing is the rapidly rising number of Americans who have earned some college credits but no degree. In 2020, that applied to 36 million of us; in two short years that figure has climbed to 39 million.

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