COVID-19 throws wrench in college decisions for BG upperclassmen

Sixteen, seventeen and eighteen-year-olds from all across the country are scrambling in a panic, unsure of what their futures hold. 

Of course, so is the rest of the country, but the fear that strikes these teens is not only rooted in COVID-19’s fiery rampage: National College Decision Day is right around the corner.

May 1 has long been the steadfast deadline for seniors to submit their decisions for post-secondary education, but as a result of the ongoing crisis, many universities and colleges have moved their decision dates to June, July and some as late as August. This change has been enacted in an attempt to lengthen students’ decision processes, as without the ability to visit campuses, students may find it difficult to arrive at a single choice so quickly.

In an attempt to continue some sense of normalcy, schools have provided prospective students with an array of options to get to know their campus, faculty and student life better. The BG College and Career Center is also continuing with these efforts, according to post-secondary counselor Paul Genovese.

“The District 214 post-secondary counselors have offered virtual college representative visits over the last couple of weeks, where kids just jump into Zoom,” Genovese said. “We’ve had over twenty college reps attend so far.”

Senior Sanskar Siddharth experienced this first-hand, narrowing his college decision options down to three schools: the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Michigan. He was pleased with the opportunity to choose between the three schools, but there was one small issue: he’d only visited one of them.

“I’ve talked to three people from Berkeley and three people from UCLA, so that’s been very helpful. Since I was able to visit Michigan, I gained a better feel for the campus and the people there,” Siddharth said. “I think it’s really important to stress talking to people. I don’t think there’s anything that can replace that.”

But it’s not just seniors that this is impacting; with the SAT and the ACT cancelling their standardized testing, juniors are taking quite the hit as well. More schools are opting for a test-optional policy for the Class of 2021’s application process, but just like the adjusted decision date, it will be difficult to determine whether or not this is a tool normalized amongst all universities.

“For juniors, I’ve sent an e-mail out to all juniors and parents about upcoming things that junior families can do over the summer, like virtual campus visits,” Genovese said. “We have online college fairs since our college fair was cancelled. We’re going to have an essay writing Zoom meeting with Julie Nelson from Xavier University. We’re trying to offer events for all students.”

With many universities delaying their orientations and some even considering pushing back the start of their fall term, seniors remain unsure of what the future holds. The next step remains to be more of a mystery than it has been in the past for all of BG’s students, but Siddharth claims to find some solace in this thought.

“It’s been an interesting process, but honestly, it has not felt as much of a hindrance as I expected, with all the resources that we have access to,” Siddharth said. “I’m not afraid to take that risk, because I know everybody is taking a risk now.”