What are the online options? There is no guarantee what colleges will look like by fall 2022. And if they start off in person, they could have to quickly pivot back online. So even though you may be considering a school based on its in-person classes, campus and activities, also evaluate its online structure. To do this, ask to test drive the school’s online learning platform and attend a virtual lecture. You can also get the perspective of a student who started off in person, but had to switch to online. And ask if your school keeps records of how many professors are trained or certified in online learning. The ability to teach great classes in person doesn’t always mean the ability to teach great classes online. What support services does the college offer? The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in mental health issues for college-aged students. According to a June 2020 survey by the research institute Center for Promise, one-third of the 3,300 teenagers surveyed say they have been feeling more depressed or unhappy during the pandemic. A September 2020 study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows 71% of 195 college students surveyed expressed feelings of depression and anxiety. The study concluded there is an “urgent need to develop interventions and preventive strategies to address the mental health of college students.” Some colleges are responding to this need. Appalachian State University in North Carolina, for example, began offering virtual one-on-one and group counseling for remote and on- campus students. It also hosts a student-led mental health ambassador group that offers peer mentorship. If you have been struggling emotionally during the pandemic, prioritize a college that has strong support services. Matthes says she advised students to consider support services before the pandemic and that they are even more important now. “The uncertainty can be a little scary, but this, hopefully, isn’t forever,” she says.
Cecilia Clark is a writer at NerdWallet.
The article 5 Things to Consider When Picking a College in the COVID-19 Era originally appeared on NerdWallet on February 26, 2021.
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