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The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in March of 2020 derailed educational systems at all levels. Specifically, at the post-secondary level, the pandemic sent many students online or forced them to take a fifth year to complete their degrees. As a result, post-secondary enrollment rates are likely to have dropped to reflect these changing post-COVID views surrounding education. Additionally, changing viewpoints about the essentiality of certain jobs and roles changed the chosen fields of study of these same students. Data for this study was collected by way of a short-scale meta-analysis, and enrollment rates were split by two and four-year institutions, sex, and race and ethnicity. Fields of study were collected from various sources and then compared by similar majors. Significant results were found in total enrollment, in the form of a decrease in 2-year enrollment and total enrollment. There was also a significant increase in science-related fields of study, all of which point to a changing mindset of both the efficacy of a degree and the importance of science professionals in a post-COVID society.


The COVID-19 pandemic globally disrupted educational systems, and while its effects have been widely theorized, there is little concrete evidence surrounding the significance of the pandemic’s effect on high school and undergraduate students. Information about the effect of the pandemic on post-secondary enrollment rates and the proportions of specific fields of study that are being chosen by students can lend interesting insights into things such as the true worth of a college education and the societal significance of various occupations, among others.


Study written for Dr. Naima Shifa's 300BC Honor Seminar, "The Datification of Society," Fall 2022.



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