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Choosing a college during Covid?

Commentary by: Carolyn Manion, Special Assistant for External Affairs of CER

Were you or someone in your family planning on attending college this fall?

Has COVID-19 affected travel, finances and financial aid, and educational  stability in such a way that your plans are suddenly up in the air? 

You are not alone–it’s a scary time to be a high school senior. Thousands of students are seeing tests canceled or restructured, and as college admissions letters start pouring in and the pressure is on for the next month to decide, it can truly be a time of confusion. Bets are off for campus visit road trips, and admissions committees are overworked and delayed with a new influx of responsibilities. But thanks to the internet, you can probably find a way to learn about your top colleges and make a confident, informed choice. 

Given the fast upending of normal routine and the different speeds at which different institutions are adapting to the new way of life under COVID-19, it isn’t as easy as a google search of “virtual college fairs” – many results are outdated or geared toward participating universities, not students. 

Fortunately, a few organizations and individuals have dedicated themselves to aggregating solutions for students specifically in this novel situation. The best in-depth look at the resources available for a myriad of contingencies to the college application and acceptance process is this Forbes Article, which covers testing dates and college essays in addition to college visits. 

Two specific online resources to highlight are the massive databases for virtual college events. Here you can find the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s list of colleges with virtual information sessions and the like during the upcoming weeks, with ample information about timing and where to direct your questions. An incredibly informative list of at-a-glance campus specs with links to virtual resources and tours where possible can be found here

For a more “authentic” look at campus life, the platform Campusreel has thousands of student-made videos about everyday life, difficult classes, dorm comfort and more from hundreds of colleges. Since the likelihood of chatting with a current student face-to-face is now low, these casual meet-and-greet style videos are a great resource for seniors who want to picture themselves at a particular college. 

If you’re anxious to learn more about colleges but feel powerless when staying home, these sites will doubtless keep you occupied and help you cast a wide net for gathering all the necessary facts about campus academics and culture, arming you with the confidence to get ready for fall 2020. 

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