As the coronavirus descended on the United States this spring, colleges scrambled. Initially hoping students could return after spring break, they quickly saw that they had to shut down their campuses and move their classes online. Students struggled to stay focused and retain information while spending hours a day on Zoom. The workload for professors doubled overnight as they frantically learned to manage student interaction and transitioned their lessons completely online. Parents, questioning the value of this remote learning, complained, and some even moved to sue.
The spring also exposed the socio-economic inequalities between students that campuses can often obscure. As unemployment continues to climb week-over-week, college is stretching even further out of reach for some. Many who are already in school have started to question the ROI of higher ed. With the fall semester weeks away, time is short for school leaders to rethink their overall experience and offerings in the short-term—let alone for what comes after—but the urgent necessity to do so is there.