Much has changed in the past few weeks from the implementation of distance learning, to the cancellation of Admitted Students Days at colleges across the country, to the disintegration of the economy.
What does this mean for high school seniors who are learning the ropes of virtual classes and mourning the loss of their senior year experiences all while trying to decide where to attend college in the fall?
The answer: you need to make a plan, a back-up plan, and a back-up to the back-up.
Sound hard to do? Not if you take the right steps.
Step 1: Gather all the information you can about the schools that accepted you.
- Start by checking to see if your school has made any decisions regarding the fall. Some schools, like Purdue, are starting to post their plans for the fall. https://www.purdue.edu/president/messages/campus-community/2020/2004-fall-message.php?fbclid=IwAR2KeSQrWgho47RwSMV9ZxGpYVfquWqFeJehyh8738TQsTTAKTdWw_70WZo
- As of now, there are four options that most schools are considering:
- Distance learning.
- Delayed start of in-person class.
- A combination of the two.
- In-person learning with smaller class sizes, classes scheduled across more days and times, more online class offerings and/or more use of virtual resources.
- Check out my blog post for ways to research your schools: https://www.spshcoaching.com/they-cancelled-admitted-students-day-how-am-i-supposed-to-decide-if-this-is-the-right-school-for-me/
Step 2: Review your “Must Have” list for college.
- Relook at the criteria you used to select your schools in the first place.
- What was important to you?
- Is it still important or has something else jumped ahead of it on your list?
- Is there something that’s important to you now that wasn’t a consideration way back in the fall?
- Refine your “Must Have” list – it’s ok to change your mind about what’s important to you. Many things are changing right now, so it’s to be expected that your criteria will as well.
Step 3: Consider what you will do if colleges are still online in the fall.
- Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you ok with starting your freshman year at home instead of on campus?
- Are you (and your parents) ok with paying the tuition rate of your top choice if you’re not on campus?
- How comfortable are you with online classes?
- What other options are available to you? Are there local or less expensive schools that might be better for you right now? Would a gap year be a better choice?
- Create a back-up plan so you’ll know what to do if you decide later this spring or summer that you want to attend a different school or perhaps take a gap year.
Step 4: Make a decision.
- Decide which school you will attend in the fall and put down your deposit. (Alternatively, if you’ve decided to take a gap year, ask your top choice for a deferral.)
- If you’re not attending your top choice, you can reach out to your Admissions counselor and let them know that given the current COVID-19 situation, you will not be accepting their offer. This can help you keep the door open if you decide later to transfer.
- Find out what the school’s refund and deferral policy is in case you decide to go to your back-up plan.
Step 5: Stay informed and flexible.
- Read all the emails the college sends you. This is how they will keep you updated on their plans.
- If you haven’t already, follow your top choice college as well as your back-up schools on social media.
- If after careful consideration you don’t feel comfortable attending your top choice, then revisit your back-up plan for Plan B (or C or D).
Remember, this is not a typical year. Colleges know this and are doing their best to create a plan that’s best for their students. At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for you. Having a plan will make it easier and less stressful for you.