Digital Original: Covid-19 pandemic shows more student interest in higher education

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. –The U.S. is officially in a recession but it’s far from a typical downturn because more people are heading back to school.

“When the economy is weak and there aren’t other opportunities, that tends to boost college enrollment,” says Dr. Michael Pakko, Chief Economist and State Economic Forecaster with the Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

This comes on the heals of The University of Arkansas – Little Rock announcing it would be extending its merit-based scholarship deadline due to an unprecedented demand in scholarships. This shows that people need support now more than ever.

The original application deadline was Aug. 1, but was extended for new students to Aug. 17 after the school received more than 1,900 applications for scholarship funding.

Pakko says this follows a historical trend that more people go back to school for higher education during economic downturns.

“Just looking over the past decade or so we saw a pretty substantial increase in enrollment during the Great Recession of 2008, 2009 and as that cohort of students graduated and left the universities we seen kind of a drop off in enrollment and that continued really until recently,” he explains.

Pakko says despite the rising costs of higher education evidence shows that students were more likely to enroll and stay in college during these times.

“Certainly people have more time on their hands and see where opportunities for going out and finding other options for careers — so it seems like a good time to go back to school and hone some of their skills,” he explains.

Another factor, is the coronavirus pandemic has forced institutions to covert many of their classes online. This can make the cost lower if one plans on attending.

He recommends people should use this time to reflect on their current situation to better way out the best options for them.

For more information on the scholarship application deadline, click here.

To read the full KARK article at click here.