Coronavirus outbreak interrupts college process


ABC News

Schools all over the U.S. cancel activities.

Mahi Kandage, Editor-in-Chief

The various strains of coronaviruses have resulted in a pandemic of COVID-19, a flu-like illness which deeply impacts the lower respiratory system. The virus, which originated in Wuhan City, China, has passed from person to person at a breakneck pace, finally infiltrating the United States. The pandemic causes various social, political, and economic issues impacting each and every American in one way or another.

For upperclassmen in high school, the virus interrupts the most important process in most people’s young lives: the journey to college. For seniors just months away from starting a new phase in their lives, the outbreak has caused severe disruptions.

Many schools have cancelled or indefinitely postponed accepted students’ days and campus visits.

“On-campus events have been suspended through the end of April. These include our scheduled visits for admitted students. We’ll notify you when we’re able to resume on-campus visits. For the time being, however, you should assume that will not be the case,” a letter to accepted students from Fordham University wrote.

The letter bears similarities to many others and placed immense pressure on seniors who relied on campus tours to make their decisions. Many base their final decision on where to spend the next four years of their lives on how they feel at a school, if they like the campus, and if they can imagine themselves attending.

“A lot of kids applied to schools that they haven’t even toured and they were waiting for their acceptances to see if they actually wanted to go there,” senior Anshu Punreddy said.

In addition, the looming May 1 deadline to make a final commitment means that many seniors will have to decide without visiting the university they choose, which causes apprehension, as well as the possibility of disliking their school.

Though many schools plan to hold online information sessions in lieu of campus visits, they don’t provide the kind of information students want to acquire from campus visits; it is nearly impossible to convey the ‘vibe’ of a school through an online presentation.

“Their only method of seeing the school and whether they like the environment is taken away. People are [probably] going to make the wrong choice on what school to go to,” Punreddy said.

Further, coronavirus impacts Advanced Placement classes. WA students have already missed one day of school because of cleaning procedures, while AB has cancelled school until March 20. Even minor schedule changes and delays greatly impact AP teachers, who plan meticulously to cover all the material by the AP Exam. Students need the in-class time to understand all of the material for the AP exam; missing even one class can be a severe detriment to AP students, let alone a week or more. Many students also rely on performing well on the exam to receive college credits. However, most colleges only award those credits to students who receive scores of 4s or 5s on the exam. If students’ performances, or the testing itself, is impacted, many people will lose money and have to take more prerequisites.

In terms of testing, WA juniors were impacted.

“The SAT administration at Westford Academy on Saturday, March 13 has been cancelled,” Guidance Coordinator Wendy Pechacek wrote in an email.

The cancellation of a crucial high school test for juniors, and sophomores taking the PSAT, impacts the testing plans many have going into the year. Those who plan to take the test multiple times now have one fewer opportunity to schedule it. Further, many had study plans leading up to this date, which have been wasted.

“I feel like we were all super stressed for them, like I’ve been studying really hard over the past few weeks, so it would’ve been a big relief to be done with it,” junior Neha Kodeboyena said. “Now we have to wait to take them so it’s definitely frustrating.”

Finally, the coronavirus also impacts people who have already committed to college. Those studying abroad or traveling a far distance to their school are faced with even more challenges. For example, Pristin has committed to study at Imperial College, London.

“COVID[-19] has definitely complicated plans to visit in advance, particularly because planning trips to Britain requires a lot of thought beforehand, however, the situation is definitely still evolving,” Pristin said.