436 colleges’ chances of COVID survival charted

Success or failure may hinge on whether administrators decide to stick with online learning
By: | July 23, 2020
An NYU marketing professor says campus leaders should strongly considering remaining fully online while COVID continues to spread rapidly. (GettyImages/CihatDeniz)An NYU marketing professor says campus leaders should strongly considering remaining fully online while COVID continues to spread rapidly. (GettyImages/CihatDeniz)

Some colleges and universities will thrive during COVID this academic year, while others will struggle and some may even “perish,” according to a data analysis by an NYU marketing professor.

Success or failure may hinge on whether administrators decide to stick with online learning or attempt to hold in-person classes while COVID continues to spread unchecked in many parts of the country, Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at New York University, wrote on his blog.

“Right now half of colleges and universities plan to offer in-person classes, something resembling a normal college experience, this fall,” Galloway writes. “This cannot happen. In-person classes should be minimal, ideally none.”

Galloway has drawn up a chart that divides hundreds of high-profile institutions into categories—thrive, survive, struggle and perish—based on value and vulnerability data,


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Schools will thrive include those with the highest endowments and high-demand from students, and which offer strong value and are likely to embrace new technology to decrease costs per student, Galloway says.

This list includes institutions such as Harvard University, Howard University, Pomona College and the University of Michigan.

Schools that risk perishing do so because of high admission rates and high tuition, smaller endowments, a dependence on international students and “weak brand equity.”

The survivors will see demand and revenue drop but will make it through thanks to their brands, credential-to-cost ratio and healthy endowments.

Tough campus COVID choices

Healthwise, he compares U.S. college campuses to 2,800-plus cruise ships setting sail in the midst of a “raging pandemic.”

Many smaller college towns don’t have the healthcare capacity to handle outbreaks that could emanate from a college campus, he says.

“Why are administrators putting the lives of faculty, staff, students, and our broader populace at risk?  The ugly truth is many college presidents believe they have no choice Galloway writes. “Per current plans, hundreds of colleges will perish.”


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The pandemic, however, presents an opportunity for innovative, forward-thinking leaders.

“Colleges should not waste this crisis and should demand their organization become facile with big and small tech to dramatically increase enrollments while lowering costs,” Galloway says. “University leadership and faculty aim to help young people find their greatness. Part of that charge is to instill grit, perspective, a sense of curiosity/innovation, citizenship, and a comity of man.”


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.


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