Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of U.S Student Lifestyles market including the behaviors, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Postsecondary enrollment continued an almost decade-long decline last fall, and colleges and universities are losing much needed income from tuition and other revenue streams. If unemployment rates remain high, fewer low-income students will seek higher education, but recessionary conditions could also boost enrollment in graduate and certificate programs. The experience that colleges and universities gained from transitioning courses online in 2020 can be leveraged after the pandemic if schools want to increase enrollment by offering online-only courses.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our U.S Consumer Lifestyles market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on higher education institutions and students.
  • Recessionary implications for higher education in the coming years.
  • Current students’ satisfaction with elements of their program and school.
  • Interest in higher education programs among adults who are not currently students.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Kirsten Boesel, a leading analyst in the Lifestyles sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted higher education in the US. In Fall 2020 fewer students enrolled overall, and declines were especially steep at community colleges and among incoming freshmen. Less incoming tuition means schools are struggling financially while also facing unexpected pandemic-related expenses. Some institutions will be forced to close, but others will emerge with a newfound capacity to offer online classes and meet demand for online-only certificate programs among adults looking to gain new skills in a recessionary job market.

Kristen Boesel
Senior Lifestyles& Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways: what current higher education students want
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Change in postsecondary enrollment by program level from Fall 2019, Fall 2020
      • Figure 2: Estimated national postsecondary enrollment by program level, Fall 2020
    • Impact of COVID-19 on higher education
      • Figure 3: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on postsecondary institutions and students, January 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Challenge: Keep disadvantaged students from being squeezed out
      • Figure 4: Change in postsecondary enrollment sector from Fall 2019, Fall 2020
    • Opportunity: corporate commitments to underserved communities
    • Challenge: current students are missing out on a traditional college experience
      • Figure 5: Attitudes about current value of higher education, among students, November 2020
    • Opportunity: brands can sponsor events that simulate more normal times
    • Challenge: colleges and universities face financial crises
    • Opportunity: online certificate programs could offer institutions a new source of income
      • Figure 6: Interest in higher education programs starting Fall 2021, by type of program, November 2020
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • About 17.8 million postsecondary students enrolled last fall
    • Most plans for higher education were disrupted in 2020
    • Those who can may weather the recession in school
    • Both schools and students face financial challenges
  4. Higher Education by the Numbers

    • Postsecondary enrollment continues years-long drop
      • Figure 7: Estimated national postsecondary enrollment, by program level, Fall 2020
      • Figure 8: Estimated national postsecondary enrollment by institutional sector, Fall 2020
    • After high school, female students outnumber male students
      • Figure 9: Estimated national postsecondary enrollment by program level, by gender, Fall 2020
    • More than a million “traditional students” started college in Fall 2020
      • Figure 10: Estimated first-time postsecondary student enrollment by student age, Fall 2020
    • Steady growth in number of Hispanic postsecondary students
      • Figure 11: Percentage of total students enrolled in postsecondary institutions annually by race/ethnicity, 2007-2019
    • Most Black and Native American students do not graduate in six years
      • Figure 12: Graduation rate within 150% of normal time at four-year postsecondary institutions, by gender and race/ethnicity, cohort beginning 2013
    • Most students need help paying for their higher education
      • Figure 13: Percent of full-time, first-time students receiving financial aid, by sector of institution, 2001-2019
    • Private not-for-profit postsecondary programs have the highest price tag
      • Figure 14: Average published full-time undergraduate budget estimates, by sector, 2020-21
      • Figure 15: Percent of full-time, first-time students receiving financial aid, by type of aid and sector of institution: 2018-19
    • Attending a two-year public school can significantly defray degree costs
      • Figure 16: Average published and net prices in 2020 dollars, by sector, 2020-21
  5. Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education in the US

      • Figure 17: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on postsecondary institutions and students, January 2021
    • Schools face financial hardships
    • Class-action lawsuits demanding refunds
    • Travel prohibitions keep lucrative international students away
    • Acceptance rates go up for the class of 2024
    • Athletic programs face challenges
    • Plans for fall classes changed for most students
      • Figure 18: Impact of coronavirus pandemic on postsecondary educational plans, December 2020
    • Educational plans disrupted for a wide variety of reasons
    • Undergraduate enrollment dropped significantly in Fall 2020
    • Fewer first-time freshmen
      • Figure 19: Percent change in fall term enrollments for undergraduate students entering college for the first time, among students aged 18-24, 2018-20
    • Chaos and COVID as Fall 2020 term starts
    • Case study: Michigan State University
    • Schools attempt to approximate “normal” safely this spring
    • Pandemic conditions could keep 30% of potential students away this fall
    • Potential increase in the number of big men on campus
      • Figure 20: Likelihood to attend a higher education program on campus next fall, by gender, November 2020
  6. Learnings from the Last Recession

    • The Great Recession gave higher education enrollment a boost
    • Funding for higher education changed
    • Uptick in graduate enrollment could offer hope
    • Millennials are most likely to see recession as an opportunity for education
      • Figure 21: Agreement that a recession is a good time to go back to school, November 2020
  7. Market Factors

    • Technology: online classes heighten digital divide among students
    • Spotlight: Apple’s commitment to HBCUs
      • Figure 22: Apple commits $100 million to minority education, business development, January 2021
    • Policy: December relief bill allocates money for schools
    • Economics: high unemployment will continue to disrupt plans for school
      • Figure 23: Impact of coronavirus pandemic on postsecondary educational plans, December 2020
      • Figure 24: Household income among those who canceled all Fall 2020 postsecondary plans, December 2020
  8. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Pandemic problems offer opportunities for tech companies
    • Now is the time for brands to support underserved students
    • Facebook Campus hopes to recapture a young audience
  9. Market Opportunities

    • Shift to online classes opens doors for “edtech” brands
    • Companies facilitating online programs for nonprofit schools will profit themselves
    • Online proctoring software companies need to improve optics
    • Brands and corporations have a chance for philanthropy
    • Facebook turns to Facebook Campus to capture Gen Z users
  10. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • The majority of students in campus based programs worry about COVID-19
    • Current students mourn loss of the traditional college experience
    • Fewer students lived on campus in 2020
    • Online certificate programs could be popular among working adults
  11. Attitudes toward College and COVID-19

    • Half of all adults scorn colleges for holding in-person classes
      • Figure 25: Attitudinal statements related to higher education and COVID-19, among total adults, November 2020
    • Three in five campus-based students worry about catching COVID-19
    • Male students and White, Non-Hispanic students less worried than others
      • Figure 26: Level of worry about catching COVID-19, among students, November 2020
    • Most students willing to put faith in campus COVID-related rules
      • Figure 27: Attitudinal statements related to higher education and COVID-19, among students, November 2020
    • Students speak: qualitative responses
  12. Value of Higher Education

    • Degree programs considered a necessary expense
      • Figure 28: Postsecondary school perceptions, public and private four-year schools, October 2019
    • General public sees value in access to faculty
      • Figure 29: Elements that add value to the cost of a higher education program, among total adults, November 2020
    • Spotlight: students show their appreciation
      • Figure 30: Screen capture from a students’ appreciation video, December 2020
    • For Gen Z students, facilities are as important as access to faculty
      • Figure 31: Elements that add value to the cost of a higher education program, among students, November 2020
    • Students feel cheated
    • Meeting new people
    • The “college experience” is not what it was
    • Female students are especially disappointed
      • Figure 32: Agreement that college students are not getting a full college experience, by gender, November 2020
    • Current conditions are still better than other options
      • Figure 33: Attitudes about current value of higher education, among students, November 2020
  13. Campus Lifestyles

    • Living at home undermines the “college experience”
      • Figure 34: Students’ current living arrangements, November 2020
    • For some students, staying with parents offers sense of security
    • Nearly all students in campus-based programs were online students too
      • Figure 35: School’s options for fall classes, November 2020
    • Students are fairly satisfied
    • Opportunities for schools to improve mental health resources
      • Figure 36: Current students’ satisfaction with school, November 2020
    • Female students are less satisfied by current conditions
      • Figure 37: Current students’ satisfaction with school facilities and services, by gender, November 2020
  14. Interest in Higher Education

    • Higher education programs interest almost half of all non-student adults
      • Figure 38: Interest in higher education programs starting Fall 2021, November 2020
    • Schools have a chance to draw adults who are already working
      • Figure 39: Barriers to pursuing higher education, November 2020
    • Career ambitions motivate interest in continuing one’s education
      • Figure 40: Motivations for starting a higher education program in Fall 2021, November 2020
    • Women value convenience of online programs
      • Figure 41: Motivations for starting a higher education program in Fall 2021, by gender, November 2020
    • Career paths are changing
      • Figure 42: Estimated undergraduate enrollment by major at four-year institutions, 2020
    • Four-year bachelor’s programs lack appeal for most non-students
      • Figure 43: Interest in higher education programs starting Fall 2021, by type of program, November 2020
    • Majority of Black non-students are interested in certificate programs
      • Figure 44: Interest in online certificate programs starting Fall 2021, November 2020
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • The following is a list of abbreviations used in this Report.
  16. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 45: Number of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions annually, by race/ethnicity and gender, 2018-19
      • Figure 46: Number of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions annually, by race/ethnicity and student level, 2018-19
      • Figure 47: Average net cost of attendance in 2020 dollars for first-time full-time undergraduate students, by sector, 2006-21
      • Figure 48: Estimated undergraduate enrollment, by major at four-year institutions, Fall 2020
  17. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 49: Attitudes about community college programs, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2020
      • Figure 50: Attitudes about current value of higher education, among total adults, November 2020

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

Market

Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.

Consumer

Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

Brand/Company

Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

Data

Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

Below is a sample report, understand what you are buying.

Click to show report

Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted. Also, our reports come in PDF, Powerpoint, Word and Excel Databook formats.

Trusted by companies. Big and small.

Bell Logo - Mintel client
Boots Logo - Mintel Client
Kelloggs Logo - Mintel client
Samsung Logo - Mintel client
Nike Logo - Mintel client
Walgreens Logo - Mintel client

Want to speak to us directly?

Contact us on via phone or fill out a form with your enquiry.

Contact Us