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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.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two with the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two "assault rifles" believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI told news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.