Coronavirus drop out: Are online-only courses driving college students away?

Apr 9, 2020, 4:34 PM
File Photo: Kelli Pierce, KSL Newsradio

SALT LAKE CITY– Will coronavirus inspire students to drop out of school? The coronavirus outbreak has turned college campuses into ghost towns with only a few weeks left at most schools.

Any and all learning is already moving from the classroom to online. The result has left nearly 200,000 students in Utah locked out of their campus. Most concerning, university leaders can only guess if an online-only school format may lead some students to drop out.

Many of those school officials are now busy advocating for students to take their online courses seriously and finish the academic year strong.

Buyers remorse?

For University of Utah President Ruth Watkins, the concern is keeping students engaged.

“We have dedicated a number of resources to online support and learning guides,” she explained.

It’s a period of uncertainty for everyone, with now ten-percent of the U.S. workforce unemployed. Nonetheless, Watkins still believes a college degree is important as ever to navigate a topsy-turvy job market.

“The tragic event of this would be if students don’t stay on the path to complete their degrees as we enter into a period of difficulty in terms of employment and jobs,” Watkins continued. “The absolutely tragic decision would be for people to drop their enrollment.”

Another challenge for higher education leaders is navigating the possible feeling of buyers remorse that some college students and their families may have. At the University of Utah, quick steps were taken to refund students who were denied the typical “college experience.”

“We refunded housing immediately for students,” said Watkins. “We wanted to keep our students safe, that was our first priority.”

Don’t drop out, “keep plugging along”

At Salt Lake Community College, it’s a similar story.

“I’ve been in higher education for over thirty years and this is brand new to me,” explained President Deneece Huftalin.

Just like at the University of Utah, their staff is busy trying to motivate students to remain engaged and active in their learning during the pandemic.

“We were very nervous as we moved to online courses that students may feel like they can’t succeed and that it just wasn’t a learning platform for them,” she said.

Huftalin credits teachers, student affairs staff and, of course, students, as the school has seen Spring enrollment numbers stay steady with where they were before the coronavirus outbreak. She mentioned the school is closely monitoring Summer and Fall enrollment as they continue to preach the importance of higher education.

“This is not the time to drop out,” she said. “We know that a college degree is going to keep you more protected than ever going forward with this economy. Keep plugging along. That’s the message we’re sending to our students.”

Today’s Top Stories


An electronic sign on the campus of the University of Utah was seen displaying pornography today....
Becky Bruce

Slight increase in crime on U of U campus from previous year, report says

There has been a slight increase in crime on campus over the previous year, according to a report released Friday by the University of Utah.
23 hours ago
US President Joe Biden announces student loan relief on August 24, 2022 in the Roosevelt Room of th...
Betsy Klein and MJ Lee, CNN

Biden administration kicks off student loan debt forgiveness process

The Biden administration began its efforts aimed at student loan forgiveness on Thursday.
23 hours ago
cline alpine board...
Lindsay Aerts

At Alpine school board meeting, Natalie Cline claims district allows porn in classrooms

Whether Cline, from the Utah Board of Education, can speak at the Alpine district meeting (where she doesn't reside) was questioned.
2 days ago
The wafer with the etched Book of Mormon on it, made by BYU students...
Samantha Herrera

BYU engineering students put ‘world’s smallest Book of Mormon’ on 4 inch disc

The entirety of the Book of Mormon is now on display on a gold-plated 4-inch disc in the Clyde Building at BYU. It'll last millions of years.
2 days ago
American Leadership Academy pictured....
Elizabeth Weiler

American Leadership Academy responds to homecoming incident

American Leadership Academy responded to allegations of body shaming and dress code at a high school homecoming dance.
2 days ago
Researchers at UNLV say rocks with volcanic ash as old as 12 million years have been discovered at ...
Adam Small

Ancient volcanic ash found at Lake Mead, researchers say

Rocks with volcanic ash that could be 12 million years old have recently been found at Lake Mead, according to researchers from UNLV.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Coronavirus drop out: Are online-only courses driving college students away?