For High School Seniors and Their Parents: Trying to Decide What to Do About Fall 2020
Upended By COVID-19
To all of you high school seniors and their parents, I am so sorry you are going through this. After all the years of planning and working towards graduating from high school, enjoying a summer of freedom, and entering college in the fall, your disappointment is completely understandable. Your confusion, too.
Because the colleges are confused, too! Most still haven’t decided whether to welcome some or all students to campus or continue teaching online. They will have to make their decisions in the coming months, but even then, a resurgence of this virus could upend everything.
So, what can you do? The answer really depends on your tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.
- If you really want to go to college in the fall, keep in mind that many colleges have delayed their deposit date. If you need more time to think about it, call the Admission office and negotiate with them. You are about to make a huge commitment to an uncertain fall. It’s like being asked to buy a house not knowing if you will be able to live in the house or just look at it from afar and zoom into it for virtual experiences. So, ask for what you need.
- The same holds true for financial aid. Colleges are terrified that you won’t make your deposit. They are even more terrified that you’ll say yes and then walk away from the deposit if things don’t get better. So, contact a reliable financial aid advisor and negotiate a better financial aid package. This is a buyer’s market for sure.
- For those of you who can wait, take this opportunity to defer admission or the decision, and plan to take a semester or a year off, perhaps with a group of friends. Gap years are extraordinarily beneficial for most students. You can really catch your breath after a whirlwind 13+ years in school. You can rest, think, connect with people, do internships, exercise, read, etc. Hopefully, there will also be jobs so you can save some money for college in 2021. This may be the only time in your life when you have a year to sculpt all on your own. It can be beyond rewarding.
Another reason to wait a year is that the higher education landscape is going to continue to change radically. Many colleges will try to survive by mounting new courses of study that will generate revenue. Others will consider merging with others to save themselves. And yet more will close, so that the swag you purchased will just be sad. Every college employee – staff and faculty—is doing their best with the information they have, but so much is beyond their control. All you can do is take control of your next steps.
If you decide you are going to college this fall come hell or high water, be prepared for a wild ride.
If you decide to take a year off, enjoy!