Choosing your best-fit college is a tough decision and one made even more difficult this year. Policies and plans at all institutions are frequently changing to respond to continuing health and economic concerns. Stay informed, be flexible, and keep evaluating your options. Here are a few tips to help.
Update Your College List
Taking a closer look at your college list can be a good place to start. It might be worth adding a second safety school to your top choice college list or removing colleges whose fall plans don’t match with yours. On your college comparison sheet, add each college’s coronavirus update link so you can easily find their most current information. These college updates can help answer your questions as you look to make decisions.
Important things to note:
- Deposit deadline. Some schools have extended deposit deadlines to June 1 or later.
- Fall instruction plans. Will fall classes be online? What are the backup plans for this year?
- Tuition freeze/adjustment. How did the school support current year students?
- Housing contracts. Have deadlines, deposits or processes changed?
- Majors and Programs. Some colleges, especially smaller ones, are feeling budget crunches already, and may be looking to cut staff or programs. Check that your major isn’t on the potential chopping block, and/or that you would have an alternative major to pursue.
- Use Virtual Campus Tours and school social media in lieu of in-person visits.
If you’ve been deferred or waitlisted, and do not have significant financial need, your chances of admission will be greater than if you will require support from the college. Have a backup plan in case your original choice stops being your best-fit option. This might include deferring admission at your college of choice, and taking online courses (make sure they’ll count as transfer credits!) for a year at your local community college. Consider asking for a deferment until next year. College instruction this fall may still be a hybrid of online classes rather than the on-campus experience you’re expecting.
Stay In Touch
Keep checking your email. Many schools are sending important admissions and financial aid updates, and you don’t want to miss a potential opportunity. For many colleges, demonstrated interest from you can be an important part of their admissions decisions. So make sure you respond and engage with emails you receive from your prospective schools.
Also, while you’re staying home, you’re probably spending even more time than usual on social media. Know that admissions officers and educators are too, so put your best self forward with these social media tips.
Revisit Your Finances
Some colleges may be more flexible than usual due to their concerns with filling their enrollment goals. Use this leverage to your advantage. You may be able to better negotiate your scholarship package. Surveys show that more students than usual may choose state schools to stay closer to home. This may mean larger freshman classes and less flexibility in negotiations at these schools. If uncertain of your college choice, avoid paying your deposit until just before the deadline date. Request an extension if possible. If job loss or other changes in your family’s financial status may affect your ability to enroll, contact the college financial aid office. Aid officers have more discretion to upgrade financial aid packages, even if deadlines have passed.
While this year hasn’t been as expected and the future is still unknown, you will continue to learn and grow. And you and your classmates will show us all how far your grit and determination will take you!
The Impact of COVID-19 on College Planning
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be. In this webinar, John unpacks the many changes to college admissions and standardized testing due to the coronavirus, especially as they impact the classes of 2020 and 2021
Founder/CEO of OnToCollege