College compromises, due to pandemic

Maura Shine '20, Supervising Editor at Large

May 1 is a daunting day for most seniors as they must decide where to start their next educational path. Weighing pros and cons, researching online and talking to friends and counselors can only go so far. Making the decision of where to go to college is already hard enough when you actually have the ability to go visit each school in person, but due to COVID-19, many seniors can’t even do that, therefore making college decisions that much harder.
It has been almost a year since I’ve toured any college campuses. While the initial impressions I had are still with me, it’s hard to remember the important details about the schools. Additionally, I never got to experience these campuses during the school year when they were full of students, missing out on the true feel for the school community. Not being able to walk these campuses as if they were my everyday home makes it difficult to choose where to go.
Schools have tried to make it easier to choose by offering assistance, online campus tours and video conferences with teachers and students, but it isn’t the same. Seeing classrooms and dorms through a computer screen doesn’t give an accurate sense of reality. Hearing about other people’s experiences doesn’t assure me that mine will be similar. It makes the process of choosing a college even more stressful than it usually would be.
I am lucky to have already seen every college campus I applied to, so I don’t feel as lost as many other seniors. Even then, if I had the choice I would want to go back and visit campuses at least a couple more times before choosing a school.
Seniors who had committed prior to COVID-19 have it easy because they aren’t feeling equal pressure. Although college tours have been canceled, my friend was still able to go walk around different in-state campuses for a better idea of what the school was like. It helped her narrow down what she liked in a campus and what she didn’t. For me on the other hand, it’s not that simple because crossing state borders isn’t allowed. Even if I wanted to just go walk around without an official tour, I can’t leave the state, so I can’t see the school. It’s a tough position to be in because I don’t know if I’m making the right choice.
The resources available to the students and the flexibility of most schools have made this time easier, but the already stressful decision day has become a lot more stressful due to COVID-19. In the end I know I’ll have to choose but taking as much time as I can is the best thing for me right now.