Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When the coronavirus pandemic turned college into a series of Zoom meetings, millions of college students decided to defer — or drop out entirely — and get jobs instead.

By the numbers: 22% of college students across all four years are planning not to enroll this fall, according to a College Reaction/Axios poll. Of those not returning to school, most — 73% — are working full time."

“I thought that no matter how hard Harvard tried to train its teaching staff to adapt to the online education format, it would not compare to in-person instruction and would end up having a negative impact on my educational development," says Garrett O'Brien, a rising sophomore at Harvard who has taken this year off.

  • Students are getting jobs as servers, tutors and freelance writers, among other gigs. Many of them are helping support their families.
  • The trend is spurring the creation of startups. Some former Google employees got together and started a "school" that trains students who are taking time off for future jobs in engineering, sales and more.

This phenomenon could have long-lasting effects on the labor market, Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom tells Axios.

  • "One part of the labor market that will be hit hardest will be the lower-skilled end — both with lower demand due to COVID as low-skilled demanding industries like travel, entertainment and retail are shrinking most and with relatively larger supply due to people working a year extra before college," he says. "This could increase inequality even further."

Go deeper

24 hours ago - Health

Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Large school districts that were in a hybrid reopening phase reverted back to virtual learning in response to growing community spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: Both Boston and Chicago's public school districts closed for in-person learning as health officials investigate what caused the spikes in nearby suburbs.

The cliffhanger could be ... Georgia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1992, but Georgia's changing demographics may prove pivotal this year — not only to Trump v. Biden, but also to whether Democrats take control of the Senate.

Why it matters: If the fate of the Senate did hinge on Georgia, it might be January before we know the outcome. Meanwhile, voters' understanding of this power in the final days of the election could juice turnout enough to impact presidential results.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.