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How to Choose a College During The Global Pandemic of COVID-19

Posted on 08 Apr 2020

5 min read
How to Choose a College During The Global Pandemic of COVID-19

Students During the Pandemic – How to Choose a College

Along with the spread of novel coronavirus, there is a spread of closures of colleges and universities all over the country. Higher education has already faced national emergencies and crises, including flu, floods, or fires. However, it has never faced COVID-19, and that makes the situation even more complicated. Obviously, coronavirus will impact college admission and will have its consequences for higher education in general.

This month already, high school seniors from every corner of the globe need to decide where they will study and make an important decision on picking their colleges. Normally, applicants choose among several colleges they have been accepted by visit their campuses if they have such an opportunity. Some colleges support low-income students with funds to help them visit campuses. Admitted student programs are also a great opportunity for students while they can visit the campus for the second time, attend classes, and even stay overnight and meet their future classmates.

But everything changed this year. Most college campuses are closed now, so students do not have a chance to visit the campuses anymore. Attending classes and seeing a campus is crucial and helps them make their choice. Some students seem to get lost with the situation, but they should not be. It is still possible to make the right and considered decision. All students who are going to be enrolled in college may read the following information to make the situation with admission more or less clear:

Be Creative

Now, it is the best time for students to be creative and innovative. Educational establishments also need to show their creativity due to crisis. Some universities already start delaying their deadlines to accept admission offers to the 1st of May, according to Andy Borst. Borst is the director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. A Google doc created by ACCEPT (Admission Counselors Cultivating Equity and Peace Today) allows monitoring schools that shift their deadlines. Not all universities announced about changing their deadlines yet, but families should anticipate more flexible dates, while the traditional admission calendar may be different from that in the previous years. However, as Borst says, even if you do not see your college to be flexible with its dates, try to figure out maximum information about the college you want to enroll. It is always possible to find all new information online or call the admission office. We live in an era when emails are one of the most widely-used ways of communication, so you can always use it and conduct your research. By the way, you can even evaluate the quality of your university by how responsive it is to its applicants in the period of crisis. The colleague of Borst at Lawrence University Ken Anselment agrees with that statement. Anselment wrote in his tweet that in the period of crisis, you could very well see the strengths and weaknesses of your institution. And the same statement concerns students. Yes, you might not have the best time for choosing your college; however, if you have a will, you will find resources to find out as much information as possible. You have probably developed your critical thinking when being in high school, so now it’s the best time to apply your skills. Opening a college’s website should not be a problem, so do it and check the school newspaper online, browse their last year’s archives and find out more about their campus.

Clery Act, federal consumer protection, requires each school to report about their on-campus crime statistics and safety policies. So, if your safety is important for you, you can check the statistics of the colleges for the last three years and get information about their theft, harassment, and other incidents. If you want to know more, you can always ask the college about it. You can even go to Patch.com and check out the information about the community around the college you are considering.

It is extremely important to think outside the box and be creative these days. Don’t panic if it is difficult to choose a college now, turn all of your internal resources and skills, and approach that challenge. Brainstorm, and you will make the right choice, after all.

Be Open

It is crucial to be open when it comes to picking the college. Borst mentions that schools should be transparent now, and students should expect that. When getting in touch with the community of your campus or the admission officers, think about what kind of information you would like to find out. This could be anything that would help you exactly make the right decision. Think about how you want to get the information. Think of what sources are the best for you. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions and insist on direct answers to them.

There is no need to be scared to go beyond the surface and explore everything the college provides to you. There is a problem of racial inequity in colleges, and students may not know the attitude of a particular college to that issue.

For that purpose, an associate professor of sociology at Florida Gulf Coast University Dr. Ted Thornhill studies the problem of racism and says that you should not expect all colleges to be devoted to racial equity. And you cannot find it out by only knowing that they have an office of “diversity and inclusion” only, even if that office is well funded. There is no national database allowing us to search and evaluate colleges by their commitment to the problem of racial equity. It means that figuring it out is only up to parents and students. Yes, it also means some extra efforts for you, but if this is an important factor for you when it comes to choosing a college, conduct your research.

So if you want to know what questions it is necessary to ask the college officials to find out whether they are committed to racial equity, here they are:

Ask them whether the staff, administration, and faculty are racially diverse. It would also be good to know whether they have ever had racist incidents and hate crimes on their campuses and how many. Ask about the response of the administration of the college to those incidents. You can also ask about what experiences students of color had on the campus of a particular college. It is also possible to ask whether campus police, administrators, faculty, and staff have to complete antiracism training. You can check whether their job descriptions make it clear that a good candidate will be an antiracist individual.

Colleges need to be open to applicants. But along with that, don’t forget that you should also remain open. Your serious thoughts about a particular college you are considering already mean that the college passed the first selection phase. However, now you should consider each school more precisely. According to the senior vice president and dean of admission and student aid at Bowdoin College Whitney Soule, each educational establishment that canceled campus visits is now looking for other alternatives that would give you a good idea of what their institution is like and would almost fully substitute physical visit of a campus. Students might get overwhelmed at that stage by a huge amount of information. She also recommends students following this information as much as possible. You might have a complete image of what colleges have to offer you. Soule suggests simply checking your emails during the crisis while it is a very efficient way for colleges to reach you and your parents now.

Variety Is Our Everything

It is good when we have a wide choice, especially when it comes to picking your college. To understand the experience of each campus better, you should search for different sources. In the time of lockdown, we still have a chance to use social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. This way, you will be able to communicate with newly admitted students or graduates from your school who entered the colleges you are considering.

So why not ask them specific questions and get all the necessary information? You can wonder about social and academic life in that college, the arts, athletic, and even food – anything that is important to you. But make sure the source you are getting information from is subjective. And don’t forget that your online activity on social media may influence your acceptance too college, so be mindful and make sure your behavior is appropriate.

Lee Ann Backlund at The University of the South says that this spring is the most special for her for all her 39 years in the field. Lee Ann mentioned that admission officers are as disappointed by the cancellation of campus visits as students. It is extremely important and pleasant for them to show their campuses to applicants and introduce them to students, coaches, and professors. But she wants to tell students that there are still so many ways of interacting with colleges. Among them are such means of communication as Skype, online webinars, emails, phone calls, virtual visits, and many other options. Kelly Adams Fraser, who is an independent educational counselor, has launched a crowdsourced list of webinars and virtual admission programs. Applicants can directly monitor the events of the individual schools. Lee Ann Backlund suggests newly admitted students get in touch with the financial aid or admission offices for scheduling a time to talk to one of the current students or professors, for example. Their coaches are also ready to reply to all of your questions. Instead of a physical visit, you can make a virtual one, and it will be very helpful. You can schedule it easily, and it will be very helpful for your future choice of a college. Even though there are lots of inconveniences and complications, Backlund states that you can engage with universities online in many possible ways.

Set Up Your Goals

Think about what you want to get from your education in college and what experiences you expect to get there. Think of your goals well. For example, for you, it might be crucial to get a college degree at a minimum cost. Or you might be excited about getting a lawyer’s license. Other students might need to focus on their students’ lives. There is no one universal variant, and everyone has his own goal. However, if you clearly know your goals, it will help you choose your college.

So before picking your college, it would be good to think of your purposes and objectives. What are your needs and desires? Of course, it is necessary to define these factors before starting to search for a college. However, if you failed to do that, it’s time to think of it now. Some things may be negotiable while others not, so determine your criteria for a college search. You may also choose a college with a wide range of opportunities.

Jaime Casap, Google’s chief education evangelist, encourages all students to ask what problem they want to solve. And this question will be very helpful for your choice. Once you know the answer to these questions, think about what exactly you need to solve it. It will be much easier to choose a school that will be best for your solutions.

If you cannot really determine your goals or the problem to solve at that stage, you can simply choose a college that seems to you the most suitable for now. Check out what possibilities does this school offer to you. if it is still not easy for you to determine all that, better choose a college that you think will be the best for your experience and accomplishments.

Be enthusiastic

Remember that you are lucky if you can choose between multiple colleges, so be delightful if you have that chance. Be thankful for these opportunities and figure out how to get privileges from all that. You might feel lost and not inspired for now, but you can read the book of essays by Ross Gay called The Book of Delights. Having multiple choices for higher education is a joy, and you can share it with other people. For example, those who were your mentors or just supported you on your way. You can simply say thank you to those people or do something for them to show your delight. If that will help, you can involve people you know in your decision. If it doesn’t help, you can just explain to them why you need to do it all yourself. As a songwriter, Mike Morris asked not only himself but also other people about what is great about today, as you can do the same. If you have too many colleges to pick from, you can simply ask what you like about each of them. A settlement at Lawrence University says that nowadays, we all are living in uncertainty. So it might be a good chance for us all to learn more compassion and care with each other.

Create Your Estimation Scale

You should not pay attention to commercial rankings, telling an overall opinion because you should be able to make your own decisions and think yourself. What is good for you may not be suitable for others and vice versa. Otherwise, you are not able to go to college if you’re unable to do that. It is recommended to create your own system of rankings. Do you know that admission offices of universities and colleges rate your personal qualities and potential according to their internal scale? And you should do the same now. Think of how you can rate each of the colleges you are considering. Select the most important categories for you. Create a, for example, 1 to 9 scale and note down what is perfect there and what they lack. Of course, for you personally. You may also wonder why you cannot use the 1 to 10 scale. Just keep in mind that none of the colleges is perfect. Don’t be surprised that every college will have something you may not like. So simply choose the school, allowing you to have the best experience. This way, you will avoid disappointment and make the best decision. Conduct thorough research and rate the following features: affordability, support, outcomes, community life, engagement, equity.

You can think of your own categories and make your rating a unique one. Include everything that is crucial for you. You will easily see the strengths and weaknesses of every college and will make your decision.

Everything Will Work Out

Don’t be afraid to make decisions. The one you make will right for you at that stage of your life. You may face lots of uncertainties at that time, but this COVID-19 pandemic might be a good lesson for us all to review our attitude to life and making decisions. Education is one of the challenges you should overcome during these hard times. There can be no wrong decisions!


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