Sep 16 2020

How High School Students Feel About College After the Pandemic

An Adobe Education survey shows how students’ post-graduation plans are shifting due to COVID-19.

The coronavirus pandemic not only transformed what learning looks like for high school students today, but also changed their post-secondary education plans. Some graduating seniors from the Class of 2020 are choosing to work instead of going to college this year.

Yet despite those changes, high school students are still largely interested in pursuing higher education. In June, Adobe surveyed 1,000 high school students and 250 high school college placement counselors to gauge their sentiments about school and their plans after graduation.

The survey revealed that even high school students who are postponing college still plan to attend in the near future. As school leaders and educators form post-pandemic strategies to engage and support high school students this school year, here are a few statistics to keep in mind.

What High School Students Are Thinking About College

Many students are holding off on college this fall. As a result of the pandemic, 58 percent of high school counselors say students are waiting to enroll in college until after campuses reopen. Meanwhile, 50 percent say students show a preference for online or community colleges.

The survey also found that young people’s attitudes toward higher education remains positive. Although nearly one-third of students say they’re likely to consider a gap year before college, 90 percent are still planning to attend a four-year college or university eventually.

Adobe report


And despite concerns of a global market crash, the number of students who feel worried, nervous or scared about what the future holds has increased by only 17 percent since 2016. The vast majority (85 percent) still feel optimistic about their career prospects.

Compared with this time in 2016, 18 percent more high school students have a dream job that they’re working toward. While the near future may hold many uncertainties for students, their overall outlook is still hopeful.

READ MORE: Discover why professional certifications for students are important for workforce readiness.

How High School Students See School Today

Providing learning opportunities outside the classroom may be key to preparing today’s students for the workforce too. The survey found that 57 percent of high school students believe what they learn outside of school is more important to their futures — a 30 percent increase from 2016.

“This year — a year like no other before it — sees students heading back to schools that are vastly different than the definition of ‘school’ they’ve grown up with,” writes Mala Sharma, vice president and general manager of Creative Cloud Product, Marketing and Community for Adobe, in a blog post. “Not only do students have to acclimate to classrooms that look quite different, they find themselves acclimating to a future with many unknowns.”

That’s why it’s mission-critical for educators to prioritize skills like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication, even beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom, Sharma said during her presentation at The Anywhere School, Google’s virtual event for educators.

By integrating accessible digital learning tools — from the free Adobe Spark to other cloud-based applications — into the curriculum, schools can foster these 21st-century skills no matter where students are and encourage independent thinking and learning, she said.

sshepard/Getty Images

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