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Hidden struggles sink Fall semester for students

(the Generation Lab/ Cyrus Beschloss)

Overview: In many ways, the Fall semester curbed the slow-bleed sapping higher education since March. Students were able to enroll on campus and remotely. Thousands of colleges were able to minimize their COVID-induced cash wounds.

· Early signals in the fall might have suggested an early end to the on-campus experiment, but most campuses that opened managed cases enough to avoid widespread closures.

What’s new: Under the hood, things have been choppier. Students’ mental health crashed, almost half feel unprepared in their field of study, and many are calling on their colleges to ban gatherings.

Read the full report

2020.12.14 TGL Poll 3 - Report 1
Download PDF • 1.11MB

Axios/Generation Lab poll | n=1,033 | Dec. 14-16 | m.o.e: +/- 3.0

Key findings:

  • 47% of students say this semester has prepared them in their direct field of study not very well, or not well at all

  • 13% of students have contracted Coronavirus

  • 32% of students who enrolled this semester said it was "Not really" or "Not at all" worth the cost

  • 53% of students have experienced depression since the pandemic began

  • 72% of students have experienced anxiety since the pandemic began

  • 56% of students recommend their campus ban large on-campus gatherings

  • 48% of students recommend their campus ban large off-campus gatherings

  • 20% of students recommend their campus ban gatherings of any size


This study was conducted from December 14-16th from a representative sample of 1,036 students nationwide from 2-year and 4-year schools. The Generation Lab conducts polling using a demographically representative sample frame of college students at community colleges, technical colleges, trade schools and public and private four-year institutions.

We choose respondents using an exhaustive list of all post-secondary institutions in the United States, and - in random order - engage students through a combination of methods to give any student at each school as equal a chance of being surveyed as possible, including students at HBCU’s, women’s-only colleges, tribal colleges and technical colleges.

This approach mitigates biases resulting from a non-random approach. The final frame used in our polling closely resembles a probability sample of college students in the United States.


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