The Ultimate Guide to Selecting a College During the Coronavirus Threat

The Coronavirus threat is having a serious effect on Colleges. Campuses are closing, classes shifting online, labs closing, research stopping, the NCAA Tournament in jeopardy. I am receiving email notifications every few minutes announcing another closure, cancellation or suspension of activities. What is clear is that no one knows exactly what will happen in the coming days, weeks or months to those already on campus but they certainly cannot have new people coming to campus in the near future.

And while that is bad news for everyone on campus, since incoming students are the lifeblood of any college, it can feel devastating to all of the accepted students (high school seniors) that are counting on visiting their future homes to help them make their final decisions by May 1. But all is not lost! Anyone that has heard me speak about the college process and especially those that I have the privilege of working with during the most stressful times of their lives know that I live to ease the stress in your decision making process. I always remind you that stress and anxiety stem from fear of the unknown so let’s get information to know the things knowable and make the future less fearful.

Let’s get to what is foremost in your mind. What am I going to do now that ____College has cancelled accepted students day, has closed campus and won’t let anyone visit? How am I supposed to make a decision about ____ College before May 1?

I have assessed what colleges are doing so far, heard what your concerns are, reviewed what you need to know in order to make an informed decision and put together a Coronavirus College decision survival guide for you. So take a deep breath (with mask in place), pick up your phone or grab your mouse (sanitize each device with a generous slather of disinfectant) and let the following information wash over you and calm you down.

Coronavirus College Decision Survival Guide aka “Things to do during spring break instead of visiting colleges.”

  1. Don’t Panic! – Take this temporary “time-out” to reflect on why you are going to visit each school. Make a list.
  2. Most people visit a school to get a “feel” for what it would be like to live on campus. Take this time to flesh out what things you need to get the “feel.” Keep in mind that the biggest determinants of how a campus makes you feel on a visit are the weather, time of day, the attitude and look of the tour guide and how much the student is upset with the accompanying parent, none of which reflect reality of daily college life. Evaluate what you ”need” to make you successful, what you “want” to make you comfortable and happy and how much it makes common sense to pay for.
  3. You do not need to be on campus to get the information that you need to help you narrow down your decisions. Check each college’s website for daily updates on Coronavirus Plans. As of this morning 45 colleges have decided to close campuses at least through the end of their spring breaks, but for many classes will be continuing online. Take a deep dive into each college’s website to get the answers to some of the questions on your list. Typically, visits are simply tours and information sessions are presentations of the materials already published on the website. Instead of being entertained at a visit, get informed online.
  4. Remember that the uncertainty that you are experiencing from the Coronavirus scare is also greatly impacting college administrations and admissions. Colleges are making decisions about the future as fast as they can, based upon the experience on campus, and are impacted by decisions made by towns, counties, states and the Federal Government. They want their businesses to succeed and need your freshman to attend. You will know what to do when they know what to do. Yes, this could mean that admission decisions and financial aid awards may be delayed or commitment deadlines extended. Be vigilant seeking answers but be patient.
  5. Don’t take no for an answer. There is no reason to waste time stressing over not being able to visit. Other than physically being on the campus, every other question that you may have can be answered by internet resources.
    –  Take a tour of campus:  you can take a 3-D walking talking guided tour of campuses through sites like YouVisit and YouTube. Many schools have these on their website as well. These tours take you through the campus and inside the buildings.
    –  Experience student life- Most tours give you a “day in the life” of the student experience through one student, the tour guide.
    –  To get a consensus of student experiences read student reviews on sites like Unigo.com or Niche.com.
    –  Follow Instagram and Facebook pages of each college. Many colleges have groups on Facebook for the incoming class. Utilize these to connect directly to other members and start a conversation.
    –  Read the student newspaper online. Tis will let you know what happens on a typical day at the school.
    –  Sign into each school’s Portal which typically lets you directly correspond with other incoming freshman.
    –  Explore life near and around campus- Don’t assume that the area near campus is just like home. Nothing worse than craving Chipotle or Panera to find out that the nearest one is 30 miles away. Use apps like Google Maps to do a perimeter search of the businesses that you like to have close. Where are the gas stations, convenience stores, Target, grocery store, hotels (for visiting parents) and how close is public transportation. Don’t forget to Yelp! local restaurants.
    –  Expand your area search and look at the demographics of the areas outside of campus. There are many websites that provide whatever statistic you are looking for by zip code. Campus safety statistics are not the same as town or county statistics. Read local newspapers to get a sense of the area.
  6. Even if a campus is closed, the administration and staff are still working. If you have questions about a program or major, contact the College or Department and ask your questions that cannot be answered on the website. Always start with an email to the department and then call to follow up. There is no reason to make a decision about your future without turning over every stone. It’s not convenient but the digging you do may result in gold!

And I am here as a resource as well – call me, text me or email me and we can discuss your situation and I can answer questions.
Jay London, The College Advice Guy:  215.350.8714, jay@thecollegeadviceguy.com

By |2020-03-11T20:31:16-04:00March 11th, 2020|The Advice Corner|