Questions to Ask College Admissions Officers During COVID Times
College admissions officers have “opened their doors” to virtual information sessions for rising high school seniors. In some cases these doors are also open to recently graduated students who might be wavering on their commitments to a college. At the same time more and more colleges are announcing their plans for the fall. These plans have discussed who can come to campus, how they can take classes, and where they might live.
Some of those plans were not what families of incoming freshmen expected.
Stanford will welcome freshmen for the fall. But they will not be welcome back until the summer. Bowdoin will welcome freshmen and transfer students. But nearly everyone else will have to take classes online. Other schools will have block plans or trimesters. Students will take fewer courses over less time. Many more schools will send their students home by Thanksgiving. Some might need to take finals online, but others might not. Housing also figures into these plans. At some schools large triples or suites could become double rooms, doubles could become singles. Dining figures, too.
These plans might not have fans among the students
College administrators developed their plans with their finances and community safety in mind. They considered that students left to their devices might not voluntarily wear masks or practice social distancing. Rules were imposed. The easiest to enforce, like wearing a mask, will be enforced. Others such as social distancing or off-campus gatherings are tough to monitor.
I want to believe that a vaccine will be developed quickly, and that drastic plans will be short term. But I have no way to know that—and no one else does.
If you are comparing colleges where students live on or near campus, ask these questions of college admissions officers:
- What is being done to make classrooms and lab spaces clean before and between classes?
- How was the dining hall organized so that students could get their food and eat?
- Will all students be required to take some classes online through a full semester?
- What did students do for extracurricular activities, given social distancing?
- Were there difficulties maintaining social distancing within the student body?
- What is the punishment for violating public health and safety policies, if any?
- Were there unexpected problems that turned up?
- Did students who live off campus cooperate with the rules set in place for parties and social distancing?
- How did you accommodate students who tested positive for COVID 19?
- What measures did you take beyond quarantine?
- Would my student receive credit if s/he takes classes at a college close to home while s/he is enrolled at your school?
- How did the school help students to find virtual internships and other learning opportunities outside of the classroom?
- Were the career development and alumni relations offices able to help students make connections and find employment?
I know that I will have more questions for you to ask of college admissions officers as I learn more–and you will, too!
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