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COVID-19’s Impact on Freshman Students College Decision

Chloe Peters' at home set-up for virtual learning.

By Aspen Strauss 

For graduating high school seniors in 2020 it was no surprise for many that there was a new risk to take when selecting a college. COVID-19 has created new problems that no incoming freshman have ever had to deal with before and, with the spread of the illness not showing any signs of improving, many students had to wrestle with the thought and the realization of not being able to attend their dream colleges and sticking it out for another year at home to attend a community college. 

Freshman Vian Abdulqader has been very positive through her journey and has come to the conclusion that she, in the long run, made the right decision. Abdulqader was set on attending Michigan State University along with many 2020 seniors, but on Aug. 18,  MSU announced that all classes would be online for the fall semester. President Samuel L. Stanley, jr. also encouraged all students who were able to stay home for the fall to help stop the spread of COVID-19. After speaking with Abdulqader about her decision as to why not continue to attend State, Abdulqader stated: 

“My final determining factor as to why I didn’t go was probably price,” said Abdulqader. “I already couldn’t afford college but I was going to pay for it anyway because I was paying for the experience, the resources of MSU and the teachers, as well as the social aspect.” 

Vian Abdulqader’s at home set-up for virtual learning. Sabrina Edwards | The Collegiate Live

Other students agree, multiple students who had to make the tough decision to stay at home have found benefits. 

“While staying home, I can do my classes when I desire, and I can do all my work from the comfort of my own bed,” said Chloe Peters, who, also planned to attend MSU this fall.  “I’ve also saved a lot of money by choosing to stay home.” 

Madison Rose, who planned to attend Depaul University in Illinois has also found many benefits, like most, Rose is saving money by staying home.

“I am also able to work a lot since all my classes are online and it gives me a lot of flexibility in my days,” 

Ludwig Tilly who sought to attend Grand Valley State University has found that the benefits he has experienced have saved him money, along with growing a stronger connection with his parents.

Because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, many students made the rash decision to stay home for another year and many decided to take a gap year. Bruce Morrison who is the Data & reporting Analyst Coordinator.

GRCC Fall enrollment is better than it was looking in June, although less than Fall of 2019, mostly due to COVID,” said Bruce Morrison, Data and Reports Coordinator at Grand Rapids Community College. “This has happened at colleges all over.” 

After speaking with many students on if they would have considered taking a gap year six students said no while one did. Logan Thompson, a graduating senior from Forest Hills Central High School, decided after the mess that COVID-19 left, he would step back and take a gap year. 

“I chose a gap year because of a few reasons,” said Logan. “The main reason was COVID-19. Given the circumstances and how crazy the world is right now, I figured I should take a step back and just continue working for a bit longer. I also have been saving money for school by working full time and by this year I will have enough money saved up to cover almost all four years of my schooling.”

While other students had other opinions on a gap year. 

“I would not have considered a gap year because there wouldn’t be anything for me to do,” said Abdulqader. If I wanted a gap year I would have tried to travel, but I can’t do that now.” 

Akshay Farmaha who planned to attend Western Michigan University said on the topic of a gap year: “I wanted to, but it’s not like I could’ve done anything. If I were to take a gap year I would have traveled.”

Chloe also had input on the idea saying: “I wouldn’t have considered a gap year because I needed to stay on track. If I were to take a gap year I feel like school would become a greater challenge once I returned to it.”

While many students did in fact get to attend their dream colleges, many also made the tough decision to stay home. This decision proved difficult to college freshmen, who didn’t have a true senior year and now aren’t getting the college experience they hoped for. . Every student stated that this is not how they expected their freshman year of college to be. Because of having all online classes and being confined to their homes, many can’t make new friends. While most have online classes it’s almost impossible to try to make a friendship and the few classes that meet over zoom, often students don’t turn on their cameras. 

Although many students didn’t expect this outcome for their first year of college, many are determined to work hard in their first year at GRCC to then transfer and continue their academic journey at their dream colleges.