For most seniors, choosing a college is usually full of at least some uncertainty. But it’s never been quite like this.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, the landscape has dramatically changed for high school seniors across the country as they make decisions about the colleges and universities they plan to attend.
As members of the Class of 2020 move closer to May 1 — National College Decision Day — there have been very few developments that would give students a clearer understanding of how their futures might unfold next year and beyond.
Academic institutions, like most others at this point, have few tools to predict where the nation will be reopened for business come September. Naturally, this makes committing to a college much more difficult for the incoming class of 2024— and that includes the 24 seniors at the Upper Campus of Ojai Valley School.
Caspian Ellis, Olivia Brown, and Thomas Christopher all had very different struggles in deciding their college plans during this crisis.
For Olivia, the main concern is the possibility that schools might not be able to begin as planned in the fall — and whether it’s worth it to pay a private school tuition of $50,000-a-year that would just provide online classes she could take anywhere.
Caspian, a competitive horseback rider, fears that choosing a school based on it’s equestrian program would be pointless, as equine related sports could be cancelled for the foreseeable future.
Thomas, however, had a bit more of a positive perspective, as the lack of travel at this time actually aided him in deciding what college he would be attending.
“My main decision is between deferring [and enrolling] at this point,” said Caspian.
The former Student Council Vice President is concerned about her future as a competitive horseback rider, which has been her passion for years. There was one school that she had her eye on due to its Division 1 equestrian program, but because of the pandemic at hand, she is unsure that it would be wise to commit to a school for a program that might not happen.
“[COVID-19 has] made things more stressful,” she said, “because everything is unknown.”
There is one senior, however, who just recently figured it out.
Thomas Christopher found clarity in his college decision process because of travel restrictions and mandatory isolation. Many institutions, under normal circumstances, would at this time invite prospective students to campus, where they would offer information sessions and Q&A forums. Instead, COVID-19 restrictions have forced them to hold these sessions online.
For Thomas, this is what sealed the deal.
“It’s actually made me more sure of my decision,” Thomas said, noting that he attended a webinar with some of the faculty to ask questions. “That meetup wouldn’t have been possible without the pandemic, as it’s normally held in person at Gettysburg College.”
Without these webinars, Thomas wouldn’t have been able to travel all the way to Gettysburg, and likely would not have enrolled there.
While Thomas’ college decision is resolved for now, other seniors, such as Olivia Brown, are still struggling to make their choices.
“I haven’t made a decision yet because of the pandemic,” said Olivia, who has just a few days left to decide.
Just as OVS is doing, most institutions have shifted to online learning. But academics are just a fraction of a full college experience, and that comes at a hefty price.
“If I make the decision to go to a private school that costs over 50k and just do online school, is that worth it?” Olivia asked.
This question has been ringing in her ears recently, and little information has come out that could help silence it. Paying $25,000 dollars for a semester of Zoom meetings with your professors seems ridiculous, yet this is a real situation that Olivia must consider.
“I’m waiting until the last moment to press the enrollment button,” she said.Share