Deciding a College in the Midst of COVID-19

The graphic represents the challenging cross section in which we need to choose our path for the future.

College Express

The graphic represents the challenging cross section in which we need to choose our path for the future.

Emily Ito, Editor-in-Chief

For many seniors, this is a time of endless uncertainty, pressure, and anxiety. The months of January through March were spent in limbo as we awaited our acceptance and rejection letters. As we opened each letter and email from the universities we applied, we searched frantically for key words. We were ecstatic as we read “congratulations,” displeased when we skimmed for the term “waitlisted,” and disappointed when the letter opened with “we regret to inform you.” 

While the waiting period was almost hellacious, I, personally, hoped that the moment I received my final decision would never come. I knew that hearing back from that final college meant it was time for me to really start considering where I wish to pursue my higher education in the fall. I was fortunate to have been accepted into my dream schools, but with that luxury comes the struggle of deciding which is the right fit.

I don’t think I really registered how many factors I would need to consider. It’s not just about the campus, the classes, and the food. I need to think about things such as what I can afford and the logistics of coming home for the holidays.  The transition from March to April is not one of relief, but one of added pressure and dread. I see the clock tick by, knowing that the first of May will arrive before I know it. 

I understand that every year, most high school seniors suffer through the agony and fear during these months. But for the class of 2020, our decision is made even more difficult as a result of our current circumstances. We’re expected to make a choice about a school without ever having visited it. Yes, many of our prospective universities offer online tours and virtual open houses. But, for me personally, stepping foot on the campus gives so much insight into whether or not I feel this school fits. I know that students constantly select a school without the luxury of visiting it for a number of reasons, but everyone’s process is different. It’s upsetting that I can’t indulge in a visit like my older sister did. I worry that I won’t be making the right choice come May. 

COVID-19 is a serious issue, one that we understand is larger than our college dilemma. But I will not diminish the difficulties many seniors are experiencing because of the quarantine. As Jacob Viveros (12) explained, “We can acknowledge that people are suffering from issues that are more pressing and dire.” We can feel grateful for all that we have. We can feel empathy for those whose circumstances are worse than our own. But we can also feel resentful, angry, and confused. 

Yet it is important that we use the cards we have been dealt to our advantage. This new age of media and technology provides us with resources that can help us land on what school we will attend. Yes, we are facing an obstacle that might make our decision more difficult. But facing challenges and not dwelling on what we lack, can help us still make informed choices. If we work hard enough, we’ll still find the place we wish to spend the next four years.