In March, as colleges and universities around the country shuttered their campuses under a nationwide lockdown, Strayer University updated its website with a simple message: “Great things can happen at home.”
Capella University, owned by the same company as Strayer, is running ads promoting its flexibility in “uncertain times” and promising would-be transfer students that they can earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as a year.
Online for-profit colleges like these see an unusual opportunity to boost enrollment during the coronavirus pandemic. Their flexible academic programs may be newly attractive to the many workers who have lost their jobs, to colleges students whose campuses are closed and to people who, from home, now seek to change careers. And the colleges’ parent companies often have substantial cash reserves that they can pump into marketing and tuition discounts at a time when public universities and nonprofit colleges are seeing their budgets disintegrate.