New Graduates Delay Trips, Moves, Internships Due to Pandemic

80% rescheduled travel plans, 70% put off a move
A recent college grad holding their cap

This may be a time of new beginnings for young adults embarking on life after college, but the pandemic is forcing many to push back their post-graduate plans.

The class of 2020 has experienced its share of COVID-19-related disruptions, ranging from the cancellation of in-person classes to the implementation of virtual graduation ceremonies. A survey by financial solutions provider Affirm found that many new graduates will continue to see disruptions to their plans for the foreseeable future.

Not only are new grads putting off celebration ceremonies, but many are also altering some of their post-college plans.

Post-graduate aspirations set aside

Nearly half of consumers canceled summer travel plans because of the pandemic, and some college graduates may have been among them. For example, 80% of graduates said they have rescheduled travel plans that had been set to take place after graduation. A majority of them — 70% — said they would take their trips instead in 2021, with approximately 40% shooting for next summer and 30% aiming for next spring. Nearly a third of graduates who rescheduled their post-graduation travel — 30% — were hoping to still get their trips in this year in the fall or winter.

A majority of new graduates have also made changes to their immediate life goals. Among new graduate respondents, 70% said they had postponed or canceled plans to move because they wanted to stay closer to home. Only half were still on track to start new jobs or internships as projected; the other 50% said their jobs or internships had been postponed or canceled.

Some graduates celebrate the end of their college years by taking a year off before focusing on their careers. Of the graduates who wanted to do so before the pandemic, 60% said those plans were no longer in play.

Pandemic changes gifting choices

Not only has the pandemic had an impact on graduates’ post-college hopes, but it has caused some new graduates to re-think how they want to be celebrated.

Cash has become a more sought-after graduation gift as 35% of graduates wanted gift cards or cash as a gift before the pandemic compared to 50% now. Of those who want gift cards or cash today, 40% want them so they can buy their own things, while 35% want to save them to use for future expenses.

While 25% of graduates wanted to be gifted a trip or experience before the pandemic, 15% of respondents want that now.

A recent survey found that mobile apps have become more widely used during the pandemic. That may help explain why electronics have become slightly more coveted, as 15% of graduates wanted electronics as a gift before the pandemic while about 20% want electronics now.

Among those who wanted electronics, 40% wanted computers or tablets, 23% wanted a gaming console and 22% wanted a phone.

The top three gifts consumers planned to buy the graduates in their lives before the pandemic were gift cards or cash (40%), electronics (25%) and trips or experiences (15%). After the pandemic hit, the most popular gifts loved ones chose to go with were gift cards or cash (50%), electronics (15%) and home decor or furniture (15%).

Methodology: Affirm commissioned market research firm Qualtrics to survey 1,500 adults between 18-65 on May 6.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.