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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

College students overwhelmingly plan to return to campus this fall if their schools are open — and they claim they'll sit out the fun even if it's available, according to a new College Reaction/Axios poll.

Why it matters: For many, even an experience devoid of the trappings of college life is still a lot better than the alternative.

76% of college students say they will return to campus if they have the option. 66% say they would attend in-person classes.

  • A striking majority say they're planning to forgo the fun on campus: 79% say they wouldn't attend parties and 71% say they wouldn't attend sports games if they happen.

Reality check: Avoiding these temptations is a lot easier said than done. Peer pressure, boredom and a gradual relaxation of strictness could all change the calculus when restless students find themselves in their dorms on a Friday night.

The big picture: College students have few options and going to school may be the best choice available.

  • Traditional gap year options, including travel, are out of the picture.
  • Waiting out the pandemic means being directionless for the foreseeable future and delays post-grad earning potential.
  • Even getting a job at home means putting off the higher earnings of post-grad work.
  • Others who can't live with parents would be dependent on student loans and work study agreements to get by — and they couldn't get those without returning to campus.

The bottom line: For most students, returning to a much tamer campus with far more restrictions sounds a lot better than not going back at all.

Methodology: The poll was conducted July 13-14 from a representative sample of 800 college students with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

College Reaction’s polling is conducted using a demographically representative panel of college students from around the country. The surveys are administered digitally and use college e-mail addresses as an authentication tool to ensure current enrollment in a four-year institution. The target for the general population sample was students currently enrolled in accredited 4-year institutions in the United States.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2020 - Health

San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year

Fourth graders wash their hands at Bel Aire Elementary School on Oct. 16 in Tiburon, Calif. Photo: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco public school officials do not anticipate bringing students back into the classroom before the end of the year, partially due to limited coronavirus testing capacity, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

The big picture: Schools that have reopened their doors in the U.S. generally have not experienced large coronavirus outbreaks, an early sign that they may not be the super-spreaders some experts had feared.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.