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Online learning, single rooms in hotels like hostels, and random scheduling are just some of the ideas to roll out for the fall 2020 semester.

USA TODAY

Getting into college right after high school has been a ritual for millions of students. Presently, many college students are looking at breaks between increased coronavirus infections and concern about the value of college teaching that could be partially or wholly online.

A new study done this week by SimpsonScarborough found that 40% of most likely or very advanced freshman’s freshmen won’t attend any four-year university this fall. Last week, Harvard reported that more than 20% of its first year students are postponing their enrollment.

But there could be one downside of delaying college by a year: the possibility of losing $ 90,000 in lifetime income, according to a recent study from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That seems counterintuitive, as the pandemic has pushed unemployment higher, prompting families to question whether this is the best time to invest expensive in a college degree. or not.

New York Fed economists Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz say that is missing points. The pandemic has made college degrees more valuable, in no less, partly because the prospects of those with only a high school diploma are much weaker than those with a bachelor’s degree.

“We don’t want to minimize health considerations – these are very real – but we want to give a big picture of the cost of delaying college,” Abel said of their research. .

The unemployment rate for high school graduates stood at 12.1% in June, the most recent month for which data are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For comparison, the unemployment rate for college graduates was 6.9% for the same month. That’s partly because college graduates are more likely to hold jobs that could switch to working remotely. A year earlier – before the pandemic hit the economy in stalemate – the gap narrowed much more, at 3.9% for high school graduates and 2.1% for school. college graduate.

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At the same time, the pandemic has narrowed options for mid-year students, with more barriers to international travel and fewer internships. With fewer alternatives to college, students are faced with a limited number of options that could make higher education more attractive, not less. For example, before the pandemic, an 18-year-old high school student may have decided to start his career rather than enroll in college and give up a year (or more) of income. But because of today’s high unemployment rate for high school graduates, that trade-off looks much different – in other words, that teen may not be able to find work in the current difficult job market. This means she will not earn any income or be enrolled in college. .

The pandemic changed the equation: “It’s about what you would do if you didn’t have a college degree,” notes Deitz.

So what would that $ 90,000 of lost income look like? Mainly by skipping the first year of earnings when you get a college degree – around $ 43,000 on average, the study found. A mid-year graduate will start making the same level of income a year later and never catch up. For example, the average 25-year-old student will make around $ 49,000, compared with around $ 52,000 for a graduate student who doesn’t take a year off. That figure adds a career to $ 90,000, the study notes.

Of course, families and students are weighing more than income and unemployment, which economists admit. “These are complex decisions and you have to think carefully to make the best decision,” Abel said. “When thinking about economic costs and benefits, it should be part of the information set to be considered.”

Families say they weigh more than economics. Koloud “Kay” Tarapolsi said she was relieved that her 18-year-old daughter in college recently decided to postpone her freshman year until fall 2021. Her daughter is expected Will begin college this year at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design – the upper half of the country from their hometown in Redmond, Washington.

“There are many factors. Of course, the most important thing for us is our health, ”said Tarapolsi, who is over 50 years old. “We’re completely worried (that) if something happens to her or us, we won’t be able to contact each other.”

Tarapolsi notes that she’s also worried about paying a freshman year won’t be a typical experience. Although some classes will be held live, others will be online. And the students will return home after the Thanksgiving holiday.

“So we will pay for two months, then for the rest of the time we pay for her dorm room for storage, and she will come back home and take classes on duty. route, ”said Tarapolsi. The family would spend about $ 35,000 a year on her daughter’s college education, but that payment was also deferred for a year.

When asked about the loss of potential earnings, Tarapolsi said other issues are more pressing, like health concerns and wanting his daughter to have a more typical college experience. “I understand these professionals want to get life back on track and want these kids to do something,” she added. “But she’s going to do something – she’ll help the siblings and neighbors teach at home.”

About 16% of high school 12th graders are looking at a gap year, up from 3% in a typical year, the educational publication Hechinger Report notes. While the gap year options may not be as large as the year before, there are plenty of options, said Ethan Knight, executive director of the Gap Year Association.

It’s important, he said, to design a gap year with purpose, to be educational and with purpose – and not to spend the year playing video games.

“The rest of the world is in a flawed year,” said Knight. “We don’t know what the job on the other side of this thing is. Procrastination can be one of the smartest things to do if it can clarify what they want out of life.

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