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A wrench in the plan How COVID-19 is affecting seniors’ college plans and decisions

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has become a cause of concern for travel and education out of state. Various colleges and universities have moved to online classes for the spring semester, some even delaying the start of fall semester for the 2020 school year — this has led to some students revising and reconsidering their college plans. Senior Kaleb Gogue, for example, had initially planned on attending the University of Nevada (UNOV) prior to the outbreak, but later changed his mind.

“Now, because of the possibility of classes being online, I've decided to stay local and go to a community college and then transfer,” Gogue said. “It's very stressful because everything is super up in the air. But, it is ultimately going to save $40,000, so that's pretty good.”

Gogue had originally planned on going to a college in Nevada due to his parents’ plans to move there. But after contacting administrators from UNOV, Gogue decided to stay in the Bay Area and transfer during his sophomore year. For Gogue, the main reasons behind this decision were the experience and the tuition cost.

Similarly to Gogue, senior Alexey Kolechkin is debating over going to an out of state college or just staying in the Bay Area. For Kolechkin, rather than a matter of finances, the main issues revolve around the college experience and online classes — he believes that paying for online courses isn’t worth it.

“I was also considering taking a gap year just about college in general if winter 2021 is also going to be online because why would I do my whole freshman year online?” Koleckin said. “It would make sense if say for fall I'd be going online, but then in winter I could go on campus and have that campus experience and everything. But if my entire first year is going to be online, I wouldn't want to do it. Especially because I want to go to study abroad in my second year.”

Kolechkin believes the campus experience is important in order to not only get the full college experience but also to foster relationships.

“It’s not just a good social experience to meet friends and develop relationships and network,” Kolechkin said. “Some of the stuff you could do you could put on your resume, like if you join a club, for example during your freshman year and you’re there for however long you’re there. You can get some leadership position and put that on your resume.”

Currently, Kolechkin has decided to continue weighing his options as more information comes out. Regarding costs and the spread of the virus, Kolechkin thinks that his most affordable school would be in Dallas, but the issue of online classes arises again. Kolechkin advises that fellow seniors should remain flexible and examine their options during this time.

“Our year was basically taken from us by something that nobody could really control, but we're all in it together,” Kolechkin said. “We're all going through the same things. Ultimately, we just have to look on the bright side. Our lives now in this 2020 pandemic are still much better than it would have been in say the 1918 pandemic or pandemics in the past.”

In contrast to Kolechkin and Gogue, senior Ashley Ho has chosen to stick to her original college plans. While New York University (NYU) has yet to release a statement as to whether they will be moving to online classes, Ho doesn’t mind either way. Ho did deliberate over her college plans, ultimately deciding that online classes would be worth it rather than taking a gap year.

“Personally, for me, taking a gap semester doesn't really make much sense,” Ho said. “If I did, I don't really know what I would do in the meantime, and it just feels like I'm wasting time. I might as well just take the online classes.”

For others who are debating over college, Ho believes that students consider their finances and prepare for online classes. While Ho understands the excitement around starting college, she believes that students need to come to terms with the current situation first and consider potential shortcomings in the school year.

“Something I've learned is really just appreciating how lucky I am and how lucky the people around me are as well,” Ho said. “I can afford to not have to worry about college so much, and then we just need to do our part stay indoors and hope that nobody else is really breaking quarantine.”