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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    COVID-19’s impact on high school seniors applying to college

    Georgetown University, a Catholic university in D.C., is one that Gonzaga students play to; students who apply to schools farther away have a hard time getting a feel of the campuses since they can’t visit many in person. (Photo by Ehpien on Flickr)

    As college campuses closed for visitors and high schools became virtual, the college application process became much more difficult for the Class of 2021. Gonzaga’s own seniors’ experience was no different than many seniors throughout the country. Despite great efforts from the college counseling department, Gonzaga’s seniors faced great challenges applying to college and will face even greater ones when the time comes to make their college decision.

    Most students generally knew what colleges they planned to apply to as they have been thinking about college throughout their high school years. However, the inability to visit the college has made it tough to shorten college lists.

    “It’s certainly made it tougher to narrow down the list of schools I applied to,” said Grant Weeter, senior.

    Weeter and other students find the environment of the college to be a key factor in deciding where to attend. This aspect can only be discovered through experiencing the college personally. 

    To combat this challenge, colleges have adapted and now display much more information about their campus and their institution online through their website and Zoom webinars than in previous years. Online resources have been helpful to students, but they can’t replace the live experience.

    “[Colleges] can’t show you the other side of the school, the more personal side, that you get from being on campus,” Weeter said.

    Gonzaga’s college counseling department adapted to help students with the change, as well. They have worked overtime setting up virtual college fairs and common application workshops. Despite COVID limiting physical contact, college counselors have kept strong communication with students.

    “We’ve been able to touch our students in different ways and made ourselves available for them to ask questions,” said Mr. Cris Hairston, assistant director of college counseling.

    COVID has negatively impacted the college application process in so many ways, but some seniors pointed out some positive effects of the pandemic. Students have been able to virtually participate in more clubs and activities, learn new skills and bolster up their college resumés since they have so much more free time.

    “I’ve learned guitar. Last April, I didn’t know any guitar at all, and now I can play a bunch of songs,” said Jack Wood, senior.

    These seniors still have to make their tough final decision in the next coming months without the ability to visit the college campuses. Factors like weather at a college campus may now play a larger role in a student’s decision-making process.

    “When it comes down to it, weather might be the final factor,” Wood said.

    No matter what Gonzaga’s seniors decide, their decisions going forward won’t always be easy.

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