In between watching another breaking news alert, responding to emails, staying in touch with students, family, and friends through Zoom, and taking the dog for another long walk, I am getting a lot of questions from worried students and families about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact their college admission journey.
The challenge of responding to these questions is that most answers are up in the air right now. College admission (indeed most of the world) has been thrust into a situation that’s forcing a lot of changes quickly.
A Reassuring Reminder
First, my response to almost every question being asked is the following:
As worried as you might be about going off to college next year or starting your applications, I want you to know that colleges are worried about you too.
If you’re asking questions about whether it’s safe to go off to college, if you can afford it, or when you can take your standardized tests, please know that colleges are thinking about all this as well. They want you to be safe, they want you to learn, and they want you and your family to feel comfortable paying for college. They are working diligently to adjust to the new reality they have been thrust into, just like you.
What college admission officers are telling me is: “Be patient; we’re working hard to come up with great answers to how we can keep our current students safe and welcome new students next year as successfully as possible.” What that suggests to me is that they don’t know the answers yet to many of the questions that students and families are asking.
Here are two of the questions I’m hearing frequently and, from what I can glean, my best guesses as to how the current situation may impact your college admission process.
“Will it be safe for me to leave home and move into the dorms next fall?”
This is a valid concern considering the uncertainty of the current situation. Obviously, we don’t know how long the pandemic will last. But I do know that colleges do not want students moving into the dorms if there are any questions about safety or health. In fact, colleges and universities were some of the first institutions in the country to close.
As the world, hopefully, gets over the threat of the COVID-19 virus, colleges will be very clear with students about when and how they want them coming back to live, learn, eat, and play together.
My advice for high school seniors is to proceed with making a decision about where you’d like to go to college in the fall. Make sure you pay your housing deposits on time and, for now, assume that you will be able to move into your dorm or start college in the fall wherever you choose to go.
“Given the economic downturn, how will we afford college when it’s already so expensive?”
Colleges know that this is one aspect (perhaps the most important) that impacts high school seniors and their families to a remarkable degree.
My recommendation is that students and families quickly reach out to all the colleges they are considering. Speak to the financial aid and admission offices to share your concerns. With the challenges of remote work, they are doing their best to be available to answer your questions. In fact, the more they hear from families about specific individual concerns, the better college and universities can craft real solutions to the challenge of paying for college in today’s environment.
Also, please know that colleges are promising to be very flexible about enrollment and housing deposits and deadlines. If you cannot find this information on the college web page or in an email, then just reach out to them directly.
If you would like to take advantage of my expertise as an Independent Educational Consultant and enlist my unique insight into the college application process, please contact me or learn more by clicking on the link.