College and the Coronavirus

While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Laguna students in all grades, this year’s seniors have the added task of navigating the transition to college despite these uncertain times.

Ian Brown, News Editor

It’s safe to say that few people ever thought the situation with COVID-19 would become this extreme.

The economy has ground to a halt, people are isolated in their homes in self-enforced quarantine, and, most notably for many Laguna students, school has switched to an “online learning” model for at least the foreseeable future.

However, this change, extends to higher learning as well as high school, leaving many seniors worried about whether or not they will be leaving for college come August.

The class of 2020 gained admittance to a wide variety of colleges from all across the nation, with some considering international institutions as well.

The coronavirus can impact all of these plans in a variety of ways, and with such an uncertain future regarding the status of the global economy, it looks as though there may be a delay in a number of our seniors’ schedules.

One of the most notable changes to the fourth quarter for this year’s seniors is the inability to visit schools that have accepted them.

When asked about this lack of communication, senior Peter Smith said, “There are a number of communication delays between me and the college, but the most significant change for me is the lack of an “admitted student’s day” where incoming freshmen can meet each other before the year begins.”

In the past, these events have been a crucial element of the college selection process, one which usually involved a number of trips to a variety of schools across the country to determine which was the right option for each student.

However, in lieu of this outbreak, many prominent institutions closed their doors to visitors, opting instead for “online welcome sessions” usually hosted over the Zoom platform.

It is commendable that colleges are taking such strides to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but, as with many other facets of ordinary life, this change will drastically affect the way seniors will select their future home.

Without the ability to get an in-person look at how their college options differ in personality and academics, the choice will have to rely much more heavily on numbers and rankings as opposed to whether or not a college “feels right.”

Along with this, there is the issue of how colleges will actually start their first quarter.

Much of this remains up in the air and is heavily dependent on the next few months in relation to the pandemic, leaving many seniors questioning whether or not they will actually be departing for college in a few months.

For students like Peter, who are attending schools with unique schedules such as a “block system” of classes (where students focus on one class at a time rather than taking several classes), this can be particularly complicated.

“There are sort of three options for the school right now: the first is to delay the start of college and just move the block system back, we could do the first blocks at home, which are three weeks each, or we can go in the fall. In the end, I really don’t know what they’ll do. There’s also the possibility we will have to leave again part-way through the year.”

Many colleges are hesitant to say what their plans are for the 2020-2021 school year, with a vast swath of them simply saying that they will “continue to monitor” the progression of the pandemic and will “follow CDC guidelines” to the best of their ability.

This only adds another layer of uncertainty for seniors in a time when much of their life is in flux.

Furthermore, there is the issue of international travel for students attending colleges outside of the U.S… along with the uncertainty of when their school will actually begin.  These students must rely on international travel restrictions being lifted before their move-in date.

While lock-down protocols may be called off in time for school to start domestically, there is no telling as to whether or not the U.S.. will permit international travel at this time as well.

This leaves those select few students with a particularly difficult predicament in an already highly unpredictable time.