If you were planning on starting college this year, the COVID19 pandemic might have had other plans in mind for you. If you feel like your life as you know it has been put on hold and you’re not sure what decisions to make for the near future, you’re certainly not alone. The novel coronavirus currently sweeping the world has made it difficult for us to plan for the future and many people have had to put their regular lives on hold for the time being while they shelter in place and focus on the most important thing; staying healthy and well.
But while staying at home and only leaving to get the essentials might be the best way to curb the transmission of the disease and flatten the curve, it can be frustrating for those who were planning on starting a new chapter of their life as a college student this year. Most college and university campuses are closed, and it’s uncertain when it will be safe for students to return to class as normal. If you were due to start your degree this September or were planning on enrolling in a course to start this year, chances are, you won’t be starting as expected. So, as an aspiring student, what are your options?
Contact Your College
If you’ve already applied, been accepted to, and enrolled on a course planned to start this fall, the best thing to do is get in contact with your college and get the most up-to-date information on the situation from them. Many colleges might not be exactly sure what the plan for starting the academic year might look like, but they will be able to talk you through your options and help you prepare for all possible scenarios. Students might be asked to:
- Study online for the first few months of the year or until it is safe to return to classrooms again
- Defer their starting date until the next semester or the next year if necessary
- Plan to come to campus as normal, but with smaller classes and strict social distancing rules in place
Every college is going to have different rules and regulations to abide by regarding the COVID19 situation, so if you already have a place, make sure that you stay updated on the latest news.
If You’re Applying Now
If you’re considering enrolling in a college degree program, COVID19 has undoubtedly made it harder for you to pick the right course and college for you. Before applying to and enrolling in a program, many students like to visit open days and go and see the campuses that they’re considering, so that they can make an informed decision – but with campuses closed, any upcoming open days are likely to have been canceled.
The good news is that there are still several things that you can do to learn more about a certain college and gather the information that you need in order to determine whether or not you’d like to study there. Get in touch with the college in question to ask about whether or not they are providing any online alternatives to open days; many colleges are offering virtual tours, which are the next best thing to visiting and seeing it in-person. You might also benefit from finding social media groups and getting to know some current students; you can ask them about their experience and find out from them what studying at a certain college is like and what to expect, which can help you narrow your choices down and decide where to apply to.
Consider Studying Online
If you know that you want to go to college and start your degree this year but don’t have a specific college in mind, studying online might be the way forward in order to ensure that you can get started on time, no matter the situation with COVID19. Online degree programs are increasing in popularity, with many schools like Suffolk University Online offering a wide range of subject options for those who want to get a degree.
Studying online is only going to become more widespread, particularly now, with so much uncertainty surrounding when it’s going to be safe for students to return to campus. If it’s looking like enrolling in a campus-based degree program is going to mean that you’re studying online indefinitely anyway, it might be a better option to go with an established online learning college with experience of delivering degree programs via distance learning.
What Other Options Do You Have?
Undoubtedly, COVID19 has changed a lot of things for a lot of people, and you might have found that due to the current situation, enrolling at college this year might no longer be the best idea. If you already have a place, you might want to consider:
- Deferring your start date to the next semester or the next year
- Enquiring about transferring to an online degree program
- Withdrawing your application and starting again when you are in a better place to do so
If you’re considering applying to college and don’t yet have a confirmed place, you might think about:
- Applying to start later than this fall
- Exploring online and distance learning course options
- Applying to a different college which is handling the COVID19 crisis in a way that suits you better
- Temporarily postponing applying to college until there is a vaccine available and less potential disruptions to your learning
Either way, there are many other options to consider if you are worried about how the impact of COVID19 is going to affect your ability to learn if you start your degree program this year. Understandably, many students don’t want to begin their college experience in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, so you might consider deferring your enrollment or course start date and spending that time gaining work experience as an essential worker, improving your skills with a non-degree online course or volunteering your time to help your community.
If you’re applying to college this year or set to start in the fall, COVID19 might put your plans on hold. Thankfully, there are several alternative options that you might want to consider.