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Home Blog The Impact of COVID-19 on Your College Decisions

The Impact of COVID-19 on Your College Decisions

two female students walking outside wearing masks during covid

College planning in a COVID-19 world might feel impossible to most. It is especially difficult for students with underlying health issues and those who believe they might not learn well in online environments. Several colleges made announcements that they intend to open and hold in-person classes but many students and parents believe this is not truly feasible.

Factors Affecting College Decisions

In spite of the uncertainty, 65% of respondents in a Chronicle survey believe they will attend face-to-face classes in the fall. However, students seem more ready to return to school than their parents are to let them do so.

Jimmy Malone, co-host of the WMJI morning show asked parents what their thoughts were on the matter. One father replied, “Not feeling very good about it, but it’s hard to stand in the way of your child’s dreams, and it’s not fair that they don’t get the same opportunities as every other generation.”

Over the past few months, parents and students have shared the following concerns for college planning in a COVID-19 world:

  • Concern for the high cost of education without the true college experience
  • Disbelief that college students can maintain social distancing on campus
  • Fear related to sharing classrooms, bathrooms and dorms
  • Confusion over how colleges plan to tackle the COVID-19 crisis

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What the Potential Alternatives Are

As the concerned father noted, the younger generations have not had the same opportunities as their predecessors, partially due to two recessions in just 12 years. Subsequently, many have experimented with alternative ways of living, gaining an education or building a career. The prevalence in the adoption of these plans might continue to grow in the next few years.

1. Learning Online

Millennials are often nicknamed the internet generation and were the pioneers of full-service online learning. Many pursued degrees and certifications online while holding down full-time jobs or traveling abroad. This has led the path for many college students today. Several colleges developed online programs before any thought of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic forced colleges to expand their offerings even further. This upcoming fall many colleges and universities are opting for hybrid (in-person and online) and fully online programs. In some cases, even if students are welcomed back on campus not only will strict distancing be enforced inside classrooms, students may also be restricted from shared spaces like dining halls and dorm rooms with more than one person. Arguably, some of these social interactions are also a big part of the learning process; especially where study groups might have previously been able to gather.

2. Attend Community College

Several colleges have announced that the tuition will remain the same even if they only provide online classes. Subsequently, many people now advocate for attending community colleges. In fact, Connecticut is offering free community college classes.

Using community college to reduce the cost of your degree or program is not new. However, it’s now a serious option for those who aren’t quite sure about what they want to do next. It’s a way to keep yourself in the routine of continuing your education, while giving you some time to deal with the current reality.

Taking a Gap Year

Some aspiring graduates have decided to opt out of college in the fall, altogether. One high school baseball player shared, “Even though my profile says class of '21, I'm actually a 2020 grad taking a gap year. I plan to start college in the fall of 2021.”

The potential downside here, students have to figure out what they’re going to do on their year off. With the pandemic students may not have the opportunity to travel or work.

Tips for Returning to Campus During COVID-19

The possibility of in-person classes increases drastically if Americans manage to flatten the curve. As cases climb across the country, however, this is becoming more of an uncertainty. Even so, there are a few things parents and students can do to prepare:

  • Consider online classes and/or community college to remain close to home
  • Consider renting an apartment instead of sharing a dorm
  • Stock up on masks, gloves and cleaning supplies
  • Make an attendance decision based on each institution’s COVID-19 policies

If you need additional help with college planning in a COVID-19 world, Edvisors can help. Reach out to us on Facebook or submit a question through Ask the Edvisor®.