Nearly half of recent high school grads are reconsidering their fall college options. “49% of the Class of 2020 have changed their plans as a result of the crisis, according to a survey by Junior Achievement and the PMI Educational Foundation.”

Half. That’s stunning. There are likely many college presidents, VPs, (of which there are many) and faculty and staff wondering what will happen if this proves true. Here’s some crisis management advice: start planning now and give your teams an idea of the potential outcomes, because this isn’t just budget-cut scary for some schools – it’s closing time if they don’t get this right.

What can a small school do if they are afraid of this scenario? Game it out.

If the school cannot survive and meet payroll with normal projected numbers, get to work. The only thing you can do if that’s on the horizon is plan for the day after tomorrow. I would go full-on summer of 2021. Sorry. That’s it. And even that is iffy. Figure out what you can do as a fully online school and then create a barebones staff, faculty, and administration that can survive with those numbers. Create it, distribute it, and keep it in your top drawer until August 1.

If the pandemic is on the verge of getting worse, outbreaks are prevalent in your region, and numbers of deposits, registrations, and inquiries about spaces on campus are falling off a cliff: implement. It’s better for any working person to know they have lost a job than to wait in limbo, hoping, and then find out later. Especially when you knew it was likely to happen.

As for the students – a quote I read somewhere recently said that there are better ways to prepare for adulthood, working, social life, and the real world than living in a petri dish of youth. Work, learn on your own and with guidance, explore, volunteer, read, and try new things. You’ll probably be fine. Maybe the residential college period will be over. Maybe the large gatherings for concerts, sports, beaches, and more will also be over for a while. You’ll need other resources to figure out things – what you have an aptitude for, what you like, how you picture yourself working, how ambitious you are, how important is money, time, family? Guess what – College doesn’t really do that. Life does. Go live it.

If you’re one of the 2020 grads reconsidering college options this fall, go ahead – keep reconsidering.

And colleges? Get over it. All kinds of industries that were once gigantic change and/or disappear. Harvard and more will be around for a long time, but for regular people? It’s not going to be there. But with technology and more equality in society, we can make things that are better, fairer, cheaper and more flexible for everybody. That’ll be nice. Change will do us good.