5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PICKING A COLLEGE IN THE COVID-19 ERA By Cecilia Clark Colleges have faced innumerable challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the way they’ve responded to those issues should influence how prospective students evaluate them. Online learning, strict campus rules and lingering economic concerns have left many students wondering if their college investment will be worthwhile. As a result, fall 2020 enrollment declined by 2.5% – or by more than 400,000 students – according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Hafeez Lakhani, founder of college admissions counseling firm Lakhani Coaching, acknowledges the changing college landscape but still advises students to prioritize college. “Education is about playing the long game,” he says, pointing to data showing college graduates earn nearly twice as much over their lifetimes compared with high school graduates. As you finalize your college selection, consider these questions to gauge which school is best for you in the era of COVID-19.
Can you visit campus? Don’t count out a school just because you can’t physically visit campus.
“Sure, you don’t get to step foot on campus, but you have more opportunities to connect with the school than you had before,” says Sydney Matthes, counselor at college admissions consulting firm Collegewise. She says students can participate in virtual campus tours and virtual class audits. For example, Hampton University’s campus in Virginia remained closed through at least spring 2021 but is conducting tours and information sessions virtually. Admissions officials say the virtual tours allow prospective students to get a sense of the campus in anticipation of its reopening. If a school isn’t offering virtual tours, Matthes advises students to contact the admissions office directly and ask to meet via video chat with a professor or current student. “It’s easier to sign up for a virtual tour, but shows interest to write an email,” she says. “Creating relationships is important.”
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