How are high school seniors supposed to choose a college when they can’t even visit most of them? The college admissions process is already one of the most stressful times in an adolescent’s life. Between financial aid, scholarships and college applications, high school senior’s already have enough to deal with, and this has certainly not been made any easier by a global pandemic ravaging their lives from all angles.
Over the last few months, college seniors all over the country have been forced to navigate the already rocky terrain of college admissions, with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic looming over them at all times. At any time, these students could be forced to return to online schooling, and they also have no guarantee that things will be any better by the time they graduate and leave for college. Will they be forced to spend their college years locked in their dorm rooms quarantining? It’s certainly a possibility given the current state of the pandemic.
One more layer of stress added to the situation is the fact that most colleges are currently not offering visits for high schoolers, so many of these students are being forced to blindly choose a university without ever having visited any of them. Some students are circumventing this by visiting colleges without a scheduled visit, and just looking around. This can give the students a general feel of the campus, but it is still hardly the ideal scenario for making such a major life decision.
Many seniors are also finding themselves in much worse financial situations than they expected to be in when applying for colleges, due to the economic strain caused by COVID-19. Because of this, the number of students choosing to take a gap year, a year off between high school and college, is rising dramatically. According to a recent survey from “Inside Higher Ed,” almost 40% of students are seriously considering taking a gap year. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it has been proven that students who take gap years perform better academically in school, and Harvard University has been advocating for gap years since before the pandemic even began.
This is not to say that gap years are the right solution for everyone, some students would lose out on financial aid packages and scholarships if they chose to take a year off, so they don’t have a choice but to attend university the year after their high school graduation. The most important things students can do to help themselves with college admissions are to keep track of deadlines, like financial aid and application deadlines, and to do a lot of research including virtual college tours and the use of college search tools like BigFuture and Niche.
This is not an easy time for high school seniors, and if the pandemic continues to rage on into their freshman year of college, it could be difficult for a long time, but this is a resilient generation. With enough support and determination, they will get through it, and they’ll come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
Evan Green is a student at Portsmouth West.