COVID-19

Chegg CEO: In the short term, COVID-19 will be “devastating” for higher ed

Kai Ryssdal and Sean McHenry May 19, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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The campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., is seen nearly empty as classes were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Chegg CEO: In the short term, COVID-19 will be “devastating” for higher ed

Kai Ryssdal and Sean McHenry May 19, 2020
The campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., is seen nearly empty as classes were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
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Classes over Zoom. Canceled graduations. Online exams. The coronavirus pandemic has transformed education as we know it ⁠— for now, at least. Dan Rosensweig, CEO of educational tech company Chegg, thinks the changes could be longer lasting.

“I’ve been predicting, not happily, by the way, that about 20% to 25% of colleges are going to go bankrupt,” Rosensweig told Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal.

Chegg, which is best known for textbook rentals and its online homework services, saw a 35% increase in the number of subscribers year-over-year, according to its first quarter earnings report.

But while the pandemic could present opportunities for Chegg, the future for some colleges is uncertain. In a recent letter to students and alumni, the president of Wells College in Aurora, New York, warned the school may close forever if it’s unable to host students for fall semester.

According to Rosensweig, this could be the beginning of a larger trend. “I don’t think people will put the same value on dorms and food,” he said.

“I think the aftermath might be great,” Rosensweig said. “But the short term is going to be devastating to a lot of schools, a lot of faculty and, unfortunately, a lot of students.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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