Transitioning to College in the Time of COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought innumerable challenges to American life, too many for any one article to list. For high school students such as yourself, classes may have gone online or stopped altogether. So much seems up in the air right now.
And what about college in the fall? What’s going to happen then?
In this article, we’ll take stock of the situation – examine a few ways that the current pandemic will (and might) affect your life in the coming months, as well as discuss how you can react healthily.
The College Board has risen to an immense challenge by revamping its AP Exams so that students can take them from home. As information might change, please use this link to receive the most up-to-date information about each test’s new format.
Additionally, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has canceled all May 2020 exams for high school juniors and seniors. The IBO will award diplomas to seniors based on the grades a high school reports.
What You Can Do: If you still have AP Exams in the future, keep studying for them. Although they’re shorter this year – and maybe next year – the graders will have the same high standards when they review your work over the summer.
When I think about all the teachers out there working tirelessly to ensure that students can keep up with schoolwork at home, I know they haven’t forgotten you and all that you’ve accomplished over the last four years. However, large gatherings are likely out of the picture for the next few months. The following are two ideas that your school might adopt to ensure that you’re recognized on graduation day.
Some countries battling COVID-19 have already adopted elaborate virtual graduation ceremonies. Although these ceremonies are pricier than what your school may be able to afford, who knows. Also, don’t expect your entire senior class to have to call into a Zoom chat on graduation day. Even if one chat could handle that many people at once, it would be impractical, to say the least.
One option that comes to mind is that teachers create a series of videos that not only mimic the traditional graduation experience but also give each teacher the chance to address and recognize students that he/she knows well.
Your school may have other plans for a digital graduation. But if you liked my idea – or come up with a few of your own – feel free to contact your high school principal.
The other option is that some schools might schedule a graduation ceremony at a later date. At that time, your principal may decide to host multiple ceremonies – each would recognize a small group of seniors to limit the number of people in attendance. Additionally, your school might forbid guests and instead steam the ceremony live so family members can view it at home.
What You Can Do: Recognize that graduation day won’t be what you and your family imagined. If this fact makes you sad or angry, that’s okay. You and your immediate family members can still celebrate your accomplishment at home, and once it’s safe, celebrate with others.
With all that’s been going on, Fall 2020 – your first year of college — may seem like a lifetime from now. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that by the time August rolls around, the situation with COVID-19 will be a lot less scary, but not completely safe yet. That brings us to…
Fall (and Maybe Spring) Semester at Home
There’s a good chance that the online learning colleges and universities are mandating now will still take place during the fall semester. The main issue is space – cramped dormitories and lecture halls are the perfect environment for a virus to spread (Why do you think you need a meningitis vaccine before going to college?). As a result, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be staying at home for your first semester as an undergraduate.
How about spring 2021? That depends on how much COVID-19 infections change during the winter months – a time when other viruses like the flu and colds reach their peak. For now, all I can say is, “We’ll see” and “Hope for the best.”
What You Can Do: If you know which college or university you’re going to attend in the fall, keep up to date with their COVID-19 policies throughout the summer. As always, be sure to reach out with questions if you have them.
These are trying times, and, regrettably, the milestones you had looked forward to for so long will not be what you expected. If nothing else, take solace in the fact that the college experience you want will happen. You might arrive on campus a few months later than you anticipated, and campus life may be a little different than what you thought. But it will happen. That, I guarantee.
But for now, stay inside and stay safe.