The global public health crisis hastened by an outbreak of COVID-19 threatens student flows to colleges and universities and other forms of personal collaboration.
Just how stark the impact will be will be depends on many unknown variables–among them: how long the outbreak lasts, to what extent it can be contained, and to what degree local and international travel will be restricted.
While there is an unfortunate potential for some students to lose out on college experiences, the unique reaction to the disease also raises an intriguing question: Should families now consider alternatives to the in-person college experience? Will many choose the cheaper option on an online school?
Online learning is poised to be a big winner here. It is very possible that we will see large enrollment boosts in accredited online colleges, as well at the creation of new ones. UMass Online, Mississippi State University, or Oregon State University, to name a few.
Whether online alternatives realize big gains beyond the COVID-19 outbreak is uncertain. Yet, I cannot imagine that this new, unique experience with the containment of the Coronavirus will not make many families at least think twice about the alternatives to sending their children to an expensive college campus.