[ONLINE] - Varying Degrees

How Americans Perceive Higher Education in 2020

In the four years since we began to publish Varying Degrees: New America’s Annual Survey on Higher Education, we have seen an economic boom. This year, that boom came to an abrupt and tragic end. Unlike previous recessions, this one has been caused by a global pandemic, and it is unclear how our economy will be able to restart with so many Americans sheltering in place. As restrictions begin to loosen, surely some of the tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs will be able to go back to work. Others, however, will have no job to go back to, as months of social distancing will close many businesses for good.

What will this mean for colleges and universities? It is too soon to say. Most had to shut down their campuses to stop the spread of COVID-19 and rush to remote learning only. While there is hope that some students will be able to return to physical campuses in the fall, many institutions are planning for a fall semester that will be online. No one knows what this will mean for enrollments, which usually peak anytime a recession occurs. Institutions that have been on the financial brink since the last recession will now face closure either over loss of revenue or enormous growth in tuition to cover funding gaps.

Just before the national emergency, Varying Degrees 2020 surveyed 1,512 Americans ages 18 and older to better understand their perceptions of education after high school. It provides an important baseline to judge how attitudes and perceptions change in the face of this public health and economic crisis.

Please join New America’s Higher Education Initiative as we take a closer look at the survey results, and discuss the future of higher education survey research during the COVID-19 national crisis.

Follow the conversation online with #VaryingDegrees and by following @NewAmericaEd.


12:00pm Welcome & Presentation of Varying Degrees 2020

Amy Laitinen, @amylaitinen1
Director of Higher Education, Education Policy Program at New America

Rachel Fishman, @higheredrachel
Deputy Director for Research, Education Policy Program at New America

Sophie Nguyen, @SophieSG17
Policy Analyst, Education Policy Program at New America

12:15pm Panel Presentation: Higher Ed Polling During the COVID-19 Crisis

Jill Dunlap, @naspajill
Director for Research, Policy, and Civic Engagement, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators

Ken Redd, @KenReddNACUBO
Director, Research and Policy Analysis, National Association of College and University Business Officers

David Strauss, @artscigroup
Principal, Art and Science Group

Christine Wolff-Eisenberg, @cwolffeisenberg
Manager, Surveys and Research, Ithaka S+R

Eric Hoover, @erichoov (moderator)
Senior Writer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

1:15pm Audience Q & A