Understanding Student and Family Needs During the Pandemic

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Earlier this academic year, College Success Arizona (CSA), in partnership with Arizona GEAR UP, embarked on a survey together to better understand parent perceptions regarding student support for college preparation during the pandemic, what information parents need for their student’s college preparation and how the pandemic has affected the student’s college choice and family’s financial situation.  The results, sadly, were not all that surprising to college access professionals: the COVID-19 pandemic is growing gaps in postsecondary access for low-income and first-generation college within our own state of Arizona.

CSA hosted a webinar that explored the survey’s findings.

The findings of most interest included some of the below:

  • About 1 in 4 families shared that they do not have a family member who knows the college preparation process, especially those with a household income lower than $49,000 (33%) and those who are non-college educated (32%).   
  • Most families believed that their student won’t be adequately prepared for college and do not have access to information about COVID-19’s impact. 
  • Over 9 in 10 of those who are not familiar with the college preparation process said they would benefit from receiving scholarship and application information.
  • More than half of the parents surveyed said the pandemic will have a financial impact on their ability to pay for college expenses.

Perhaps the most important survey finding was that students from the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 continue to hold onto their intentions of pursuing a postsecondary degree despite the pandemic. The finding is important because it is a reminder that continued clear, regular communication is key to helping parents and their students navigate the complexities of a newly defined college-going process.  It is also a reminder that amid Arizona Board of Regents report that shared high school to college enrollment declined 9.1% for the Class of 2020 at their three institutions and that AZ Community Colleges enrollment is down 16%, college access professionals must remain diligent in our collaborative efforts to ensure that students and families get the college knowledge they not only need to pursue a postsecondary education but also deserve. 

Luckily, partners around the state continue to be committed to increasing college enrollment for Arizona’s Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 and are working closer than ever before to streamline supports to students all over the state.