Seven Central Ohio nonprofit college and university presidents – knowing the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown college plans into doubt for thousands of students in Central Ohio – have joined together to encourage local students planning for fall to consider staying within the region, even if they had originally planned to travel to attend other higher education institutions. The institutions, which will accept applications until their fall semesters begin, pledged their partnership to continue providing the education that makes Central Ohio a thriving place to live.
Troubling statistics and admission-office anecdotes indicate college-bound students are changing long-held plans, considering gap years, deferring admission or, especially among minoritized populations, wondering whether college is even possible.
With the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of the schools – Capital University, Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus State Community College, Franklin University, Ohio Dominican University, Ohio Wesleyan University and Otterbein University – have signed on to the following statement: (Click here to read a .pdf version of the letter signed by all seven presidents.)
As presidents of seven colleges and universities in Central Ohio that represent the very best in college opportunity across the continuum of life, learning, and work, we stand together in a pledge of partnership to support our students and families in achieving their educational goals. Our message is clear: “Live Local: Learn Local,” recognizing that Central Ohio’s colleges and universities offer an unmatched range of opportunities and, for regional students, the safety and familiarity of home at a time when travel away may be considered impractical or uncertain.
Our Columbus region boasts a higher education base as dense and diverse as anywhere in the nation. We are national leaders among public and private, two- and four-year institutions. And as our region emerges from COVID-19, there will be an insatiable demand for highly educated, skilled, and experienced graduates, especially in areas most critical to our community’s health, wellness, financial stability, and workforce evolution. Leveraging our collective strength, reach, and commitment to community, we will help students and families achieve their educational goals – driving regional recovery and strength.
We recognize that some students may be considering a gap year, or at least a gap semester, in the hopes that colleges and universities will return to pre-coronavirus operating standards. Sadly, others may think college is out of reach. We highly encourage students not to delay their higher education journey — data demonstrate the risks of not completing for students who wait. And we will work with students and families to make education affordable.
If you were planning to go away to college this fall, stay local. If you’ve been furloughed or let go, and you’re ready for a rewarding new career, stay local. If you’re ready to finish the degree you’ve always wanted, or go back to college for your master’s, stay local to get the college education and the tools you need to enter a new economy. Because there really is no better place than Central Ohio for college opportunity.
Now more than ever, student success and our regional success are co-dependent. Future students, the world needs you. The workforce needs you. We need you. And we stand with you in solidarity, resilience, and hope for our shared future. We are truly in this together.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid renewals for returning college students are down 5% from last year, with even more dramatic drops among lowest-income students, according to a recent analysis from the National College Attainment Network. Roughly one in six high school seniors say they definitely or most likely will change their plans to attend college in the fall because of the coronavirus, according to a recent survey by the higher education market research firm Art&Science Group. Of those, 16% say they will take a gap year.
In addition to the call to “Live Local: Learn Local,” Central Ohio’s nonprofit higher education institutions are collaborating on improved pathways to facilitate degree completion in in-demand fields that will support reemergence and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.