Back-to-School Plans for College Students

We surveyed college students, as well as their friends and relatives, on what their plans are for going back to school this fall. 

We looked at campus reopenings, why students aren’t planning to return to campus even if it’s opening, and what college students plan to do if they aren’t returning to school in the fall. 

Here are some insights from college students on their back-to-school plans for the fall semester.

Campus reopenings

We asked college students whether their campus is reopening this year. While 46 percent of respondents said that their school would reopen this year, 34 percent are still unsure of whether their school will be opening or not. 

Forty-four percent of students that attend a college that isn’t reopening or that are unsure of whether their campus will be reopening are planning on buying new products for at-home learning. 

As noted in the coverage of recent back-to-school consumer shopping insights, we expect back-to-school shopping to experience high growth this year over last year. These new purchases for at-home learning are a big driver of this growth.

Returning students

We also asked college students if they’re planning to return to school in the fall. Seventy-two percent responded that they do plan to return to school, while 12 percent are unsure and 16 percent don’t plan to return. 

For students that aren’t planning to return to school in the fall, the majority are worried about the coronavirus pandemic. Many others don’t believe that the cost of school is worthwhile for an online experience or don’t want to miss out on the on-campus experience. 

Alternative plans

For college students who aren’t returning to school in the fall, we asked what alternative plans they had. 

The majority responded that they plan to work rather than attending school as usual. The next three most popular alternatives, with a nearly equal number of respondents each, were to defer enrollment for a semester, to travel, or to defer enrollment for a year. 

Final thoughts

Many college students are still unsure of whether their campus will reopen in the fall and,  for those whose campus will be reopening, many are hesitant to return due to worries about the coronavirus. 

For students that attend a college that’s going to focus on online learning for the rest of the year, many students are planning to purchase new items for at-home learning, while other students have decided to defer so that they don’t miss the on-campus experience. 

For those students not returning to school in the fall, the majority are planning to work instead, but others have their sights set on returning to college once their campuses properly reopen. 

Find out five ways you can prepare for back-to-school shopping season now to make it your best year yet. 

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