An Estimated 28 Million Americans Have Cancelled Education Plans Due to Coronavirus; For Those Considering Enrolling Soon, the Majority are Looking at Nondegree Programs

Strada Center for Consumer Insights poll finds COVID-19 has disrupted Americans' education plans; thoughts about where they would enroll have shifted.

INDIANAPOLIS — Strada Education Network, a national social impact organization dedicated to forging pathways between education and employment, has released a new analysis of its weekly, nationally representative survey tracking the impact of the global pandemic on Americans’ lives, work, and education.

An estimated 28 million American adults, 11% of those aged 18 and older, have cancelled education plans–which could range from formal degree programs to personal development–due to the COVID-19 crisis. Of those still considering education or training in the next six months, 59% are interested in nondegree programs, including certificates, certifications, and courses for reskilling, upskilling, or personal interests.

“In times of flux, Americans have frequently turned to education as a way to meet the challenges of a changing economy,” said Dave Clayton, Ph.D., senior vice president at the Strada Center for Consumer Insights. “While COVID-19 has created unprecedented change to our lives and work, we do not yet know the full implications for education. Thus far, the majority of Americans who are considering more education are telling us they will look for immediate opportunities to develop their skills.”

When it comes to five-year education plans, currently Americans’ intent to pursue additional education has not increased. About half say they intend to enroll in postsecondary education and training in the next five years, relatively consistent with previous findings from early 2019. The most significant change observed is when Americans say they would enroll in the next five years, with a marked increase in their likelihood to enroll in a trade school, community college, or online-only college or university.

Additional Public Viewpoint: COVID-19 Work and Education Survey key findings include:

  • 49% of Americans said they were likely to enroll in an education or training program within the next five years, compared to 53% in early 2019.
  • Three out of five adults thinking about enrolling in an education or training program in the next six months say they plan to enroll in nondegree training, such as a certificate or select courses that would help them reskill or upskill.
  • Of those considering enrolling in the next six months, Americans’ interests are evenly divided among reskilling (34%) to change career fields, upskilling (34%) to advance in their current field, and pursuing personal interests (33%).

Each week, 1,000 Americans are surveyed for the Public Viewpoint. To date, over 5,000 Americans have been surveyed. The Public Viewpoint is produced by Strada Education Network’s Center for Consumer Insights, a research team that studies the experiences and perceptions of American adults in order to inform the development of a more consumer-centered learning ecosystem. The Center for Consumer Insights provides the nation’s largest education consumer database, which includes more than 350,000 completed surveys about the education and work experiences of American adults.

View the full Public Viewpoint findings at:

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a pioneering social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. We believe real impact comes from informing, engaging and empowering learners and leaders alike. Our hybrid approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy, mission-aligned investments and a network of affiliate organizations. Together, we work to create a new learning ecosystem that better serves the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at