Preventing a Lost COVID Cohort

Emergency Actions to Counteract the COVID-19 Slide for Postsecondary Transitions

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the higher education preparation and college-going plans of millions of students. National Student Clearinghouse data shows that there was a significant drop in the number of students going to college directly after high school graduation. Unfortunately, as the pandemic continues to impact daily life, these challenges are likely to continue. Without significant and immediate action, an entire generation of students is at risk of becoming a “Lost COVID Cohort.”

With the generous support of the Joyce Foundation, Education Strategy Group has compiled a playbook outlining a set of high-impact, targeted interventions to better support students in preparing for, applying to, and transitioning to a postsecondary education, recognizing the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. Together, these strategies can help stem the tide of the pandemic’s impact on student success – and counter the widening equity gaps for our Black, Hispanic, low-income, and first-generation college students.

Ensuring that every student has the support they need to succeed will take a collaborative effort among state education agencies, governor’s offices, local school districts, higher education institutions and systems, and community-based organizations. This playbook includes both short- and medium-term actions for state and local leaders to prioritize.

As a continuation of this work, ESG is providing direct support to Indiana and Minnesota as they work to implement some of the strategies outlined in this playbook. States and districts interested in learning more or receiving support should contact Ryan Reyna, Senior Director at ESG, at

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Counteracting the COVID-19 Slide for Postsecondary Transitions