More career services offices are planning for a hybrid fall term

Dive Brief:

  • Around 28% of college career services offices are planning for their institutions to have a mix of in-person and online operations in the fall before reopening fully in the spring — up from 22% who said the same in early May, according to a recent poll of 595 institutions.
  • With students off campus since March, those offices are relying primarily on email and phone calls to connect with students, and just over half are using virtual drop-in sessions. 
  • The results come as administrators work out plans for the fall term. While many have said they plan to reopen campuses, those actions hinge on access to testing and approval by state and local governments.

Dive Insight:

Gathered by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the data wraps up a month of weekly surveys about how college career services offices plan to approach the coming academic year. 

The responses suggest more colleges are deciding whether students will be on campus and when and how career services will host recruiting events. However, surveyed schools are still largely uncertain as to how 2020-21 will play out in terms of changes to their budgets, the duration of spending freezes, whether and how campuses will reopen, and if they’ll change the timing of career fairs.

Colleges face pressure to reopen their campuses this fall, with a flurry of quick-response surveys suggesting students and their parents aren’t happy with remote classes and may not want to continue them into the fall or are otherwise put off college because of the pandemic. Some are even suing their colleges to refund tuition, claiming the online experience is not equivalent to that of campus. Already, schools have returned room and board money and are losing out on other revenue sources because of the closures.

Yet reopening campus is contingent on more than the will of institutions. Testing for the coronavirus is a critical element of reopening plans and widespread access to such tests isn’t yet available. Even if campuses reopen, limitations on how many people can gather in a single space could affect activities.

Several institutions have said they will restructure the fall term to allow flexibility for on-campus and remote instruction. While 28% of respondents to NACE’s survey said they are planning for their school to be hybrid in the fall and in-person in the spring, around 11% expect to be in-person for the full year. Some 6% are gearing up for a virtual fall and in-person spring. Still, nearly half say they have not decided.

A small share of respondents — about 1% each —​ say their institutions are delaying the start of the fall term until late September or dividing it into two units. 

NACE also polled 335 employers about how the pandemic is affecting their recruiting plans. Four in 10 said they would either maintain their standard recruiting schedule for 2021 graduates, while an equal share said they would wait to see how the situation unfolds.  

Nearly 18% said they would wait to see if their target schools reopen campus before deciding. A smaller share, around 5%, plan to bump fall recruiting activities to the winter or the spring.

For now, college career services offices tell Education Dive they are helping students adapt to a hamstrung job market. That includes providing simple outreach to let them know the office is available to help.

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