COVID-19 challenges college decisions

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As the final wave of college decisions come out, many seniors are facing challenges in choosing where they will spend the next four years of their lives. With the spread of COVID-19, several colleges have cancelled their programs and events on campus for accepted students. Rather, they are making the shift to virtual tours and meetings to aid seniors in making this difficult decision. 

With these visits being one of the deciding factors in the college process, senior Cathy Chen expressed that, “It isn’t just walking around and familiarizing yourself with the building. A campus visit, whether it is when you attend admitted students days or events, or just visit on a regular school day, gives us a glimpse into the day to day lives of students at that college.”  

Many students agree that this situation is frustrating, but feel that a college tour is not a deciding factor. Senior Carine He said, “For me, the choice mostly comes down to the setting I want to be in and the financial aid. One of my top 2 choices right now is in a city while the other is in a more rural setting…not being able to visit the campus is unfortunate… However, I don’t think it would’ve affected my decision.”

Senior Dinesh Mulani added, “My decision probably [wouldn’t] have change[d] if I didn’t visit the campus… because I knew what I wanted in a college before I even applied… and visiting could always be virtual or later on.” Some have credited their college decisions to their research at the beginning of the college application season, explaining that their decisions were not swayed by the rise of COVID-19. Senior Joe Guartan said that he “mainly focused on staying in the city… and still want[s] to attend a college in the city.” 

Regardless, many prospective students expressed that they would rather experience a day on campus prior to the schools’ orientation. Senior Emily Tan said, “I would’ve liked to experience an open house there to learn more about the school and get a feel of what student life would be like before orientation week.”

While most seniors have an idea of where they would like to spend the next chapter of their lives, ultimately, they would prefer to first get accustomed to their surroundings. Cathy explained, a college visit is about envisioning whether “I see myself grabbing a bagel here… [or] see myself hanging with my friends at that cafe.” After all, “It reveals the culture and offers you a chance to decide.”