Higher education is a lucrative industry. Millions of students funnel billions of dollars into universities to not only attain an undergraduate degree but to also live the so-called “college experience.” But just like every other industry, it has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and students are rethinking whether the virtual, online college experience is worth the high price tag.
Zoom (NASDAQ: ZM) is a video conferencing software which has been widely adopted by businesses, schools, and other institutions as a means of communicating during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. Relatively unknown prior to the pandemic, its convenience (45-minute meetings are free) and friendly user interface have led to Zoom skyrocketing in popularity from around 10 million users in December 2019 to over 200 million users in March 2020, solidifying its domain amongst competitors such as Discord, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Skype.
UC Berkeley’s policy decisions this past spring around remote learning in response to the coronavirus pandemic elicited a wide range of reactions from my peers. One of my classmates, Dick, was ecstatic as he opted for the Passed/Not Passed grading option for all of his classes—saving his GPA from completely tanking. Many of my graduating friends, on the other hand, were despondent as their last semester at Berkeley was cut short, leaving them prematurely saying goodbye to all their friends and the place they had called home for four years.