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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

College students are learning less, partying less and a majority say the decision to return to campus was a bad decision, according to a new College Reaction/Axios poll.

Why it matters: The enthusiasm to forge something resembling a college experience has dissipated as online learning, lockdowns and a diminished social life has set in.

Now that the fall semester has started, 51% of students say it was not the right choice for their schools to allow students on campus. Just 3% say their school didn't allow students to return.

  • The dissatisfaction is more acute among those who have had to learn completely remotely, even if they are on campus. For those who have attended in-person classes, 59% say it was the right choice for campus to reopen, compared to just 42% for those who have not.
  • Removing many temptations of campus life has not made it easier to focus: 60% say they are learning less and just 6% say they're learning more.

What's going on: School administrators have tightened the screws on students to make sure that rule-defiers don't ruin things for everyone else.

  • After North Carolina and Michigan State (and Notre Dame, temporarily) made the call to move to online-only classes after August coronavirus outbreaks on campus, others have become even more strict in order to pull off a full semester.

Universities have threatened severe punishments for students who party and imposed strict lockdowns when cases emerge, determined to keep their campuses operating.

The polling shows that attending parties — or even having witnessing one — is associated with a higher chance of knowing someone who's contracted the coronavirus.

  • 12% say they've attended a party, and among them, 60% say they know someone who contracted the virus on campus. Compare that to the 38% who haven't partied and know someone who's gotten COVID-19 at school.
  • Among those who haven't even seen a party, the number who don't know someone who's contracted the virus drops to 23%. Meanwhile, 55% who have seen a party say they know someone who got sick.

The big picture: While there have been high-profile outbreaks in college towns accompanied by images of partying students, most students have engaged in less conspicuous social activities: 73% of students have either been to a party, bar or restaurant or gathered with friends mask-less.

Methodology: The poll was conducted September 15-16 from a representative sample of 808 college students with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 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

Why one coding bootcamp is ditching income-sharing agreements

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Make School, one of the earlier “coding bootcamps” to use income-sharing agreements, has quietly pivoted to traditional college loans that it covers until graduates find well-paid software development jobs. This is cheaper for students (and itself), the school tells Axios.

Why it matters: In recent years, income-sharing agreements (ISAs) have been hailed by some as the key to fix the college debt crisis because they seemingly hold schools responsible for their graduates’ professional—and financial—success.

NYC schools will change admission requirements to address segregation

Bill De Blasio. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

New York City will change admission requirements in middle and high schools to address segregation issues which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced on Friday.

Why it matters: New York has one of the most segregated school systems, with students of color — particularly Black and Latino — underrepresented in selective schools.

Dec 18, 2020 - Health

Teachers brace for tense, stressful 2021

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A perfect storm of quarantines, layoffs, retirements and resignations has public schools scrambling to get enough bodies to keep school afloat next semester.

Why it matters: Districts are desperate to keep classes going and are stretched thin by the sometimes competing needs of in-person and distance learning.

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