The pandemic and access-oriented private nonprofit colleges
As the pandemic emerged in early 2020, educators and policymakers grew increasingly concerned about its potential impacts on access-oriented colleges and equity. How would underrepresented populations fare in the context of radically changed campus operations?
The pandemic was seen by many as an existential threat to access-oriented colleges (i.e., those with less-selective admissions rates and wide-ranging test scores among enrolled students) as well as a major barrier for the underrepresented minoritized (URM) students they serve. As college leaders were forced to make difficult choices about online instruction, tuition reduction, vaccine mandates and other issues, press outlets were publishing dire predictions about the colleges’ futures. This paper examines how access-oriented colleges responded to the pandemic’s challenges and how their actions affected students and the institutions’ financials.
Using several national datasets, the researchers identified 152 access-oriented private nonprofit colleges and analyzed their pandemic-related actions and their effects. To supplement the findings, they interviewed five leaders of private colleges differing in size, selectivity, diversity and resources.
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