When the federal guidelines entitled “Opening Up America Again” were officially introduced at the White House Thursday evening, I found myself staring at the slides looking for clues as to which of the three phases includes opening up college campuses again. While I tell my students to assume that they are going to campus this fall, nagging unknowns keep me focused on making sure each is creating “just in case” plans. Actually, it is the planning that keeps us looking forward. It encourages creative considerations and offers a positive mental space to flourish within today, where we can stay connected in sourcing future opportunities, using the phases framework as a guide.
Consider Phase 3 Regional Opportunities Although the phases approach sounds like a random science fiction chapter in their senior year saga, students have been given a new factor to consider and the terminology to define it. Geography may determine if a college opens its campus this fall. Using phasing criteria to predict which campuses are most likely to welcome students in person offers students a new strategy and more options too!
Roll Tide? Let’s assume for the sake of consideration (not based on data or Dr. Birk’s charts!) that every state clears the second gate by July 1st. Regions in Phase 2 are meant to keep gatherings to 50 or fewer, protect the vulnerable, close common areas, and operate both sporting venues and sit down dining under “moderate physical distancing protocols.” As he introduced the plan, President Trump referenced Alabama football and wanting to see them back to “110 thousand in the stands,” but he also acknowledged that events may have to begin with two seats between spectators.
Cuban on College Value Can colleges physically open under the Phase 2 criteria? Dallas Maverick’s owner and billionaire, Mark Cuban discussed this earlier this week, when he was interviewed by Anthony Pompliano about the coronavirus. As Pompliano transitioned from real estate to the NBA, Cuban broke in and said that he wanted to talk about the impact of the virus on colleges. It’s worth a listen at 36 minutes in when Cuban asserts that after the entertainment industry, colleges and universities are going to take the biggest economic hit from COVID-19.
The Product Applied For May Not Be The One Offered This Fall He goes on to talk about what students should consider as they make the biggest financial investment of their next fifteen years. Cuban jumps from fraternities to game day to international visas as he questions if college is worth the price if it means reduced access to experiences.
Crimson Fears Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow is characterized in the school newspaper this week as being fearful that by the time decisions have to be made about this fall, there will still be a “tremendous amount of uncertainty.” Simon Scarborough did a national student survey which found that one in four students who had already made a college decision are reconsidering. Uncertainty abounds and is the thief of happiness. Let’s reduce anxiety NOW by supporting students in seeking multiple soul-filling and affordable fall plans.
Phase 3 State of Mind Instead of focusing on unknowns, let us all reset by considering options as they emerge this spring. For instance, colleges in Phase 3 states will be able to welcome students in person this fall. Yay! If college of choice is in a hot spot today, explore adding the option of spending a semester in a projected Phase 3 region to explore an interest, make money, and/or earn college credits on a college campus.
Create Your Own Contingency Plan We hope that the United States is 100 percent back on campus this fall with standing room only on football Saturdays, but as the resilient Class of 2020 has learned over and over, it is best to have multiple scenarios to choose from. NOW is the time to start making those alternate plans! Below are a few tips to allow students to maintain pathways to their goals. Including Phase 3 options can offer more pivot room and created multiple focus points.
Colleges Need You Although we cannot predict the exact timing, we do know that on campus opportunities will return to 50 states, payment plans will continue to be modified and that colleges and universities NEED YOU on campus. Thank you for remaining flexible as we focus on getting you back to campus one phase at a time. You are our future and our now too. Never forget how proud we are of you.
Tips To Consider As A Fall 2020 College Student:
*Students can negotiate payment plans and seek amended need based financial aid packages per changes in income.
*Students can still apply for financial aid with FAFSA
*Students should compare college Fall 2020 contingency plans so that they understand what they are potentially buying.
*Students can choose to defer admission for a semester or year to avoid committing to an unknown and gain time to recover financially.
*Students can delay their deposit until June 1st, or later possibly, by speaking with college admission offices.
*Students can apply to colleges still accepting applications to create more affordable, commuter and on campus options. Many colleges are looking to increase numbers of incoming students. Reach out to colleges of interest to see if they are still accepting applications, offering scholarships etc. (Fun Fact: The University of Oregon is still accepting fall applications and is offering scholarship opportunities too!)
*Community colleges have relationships with the four year colleges they feed to. Consider learning more now. Community college allows one to save money, even if one chooses to live in a local apartment (some have their own housing too.)
*Students can maintain control of their future by staying informed and open to new opportunities to reach goals. Research your dreams! Virtual tours and answers are waiting!
*Seniors can stay mindful in supporting their mental health by being dedicated to a routine and staying rooted in the realization that they are in control of defining their future achievements.
Eva is a college advisor affiliated with Collegewise. She was interviewed on Monday about COVID-19 impacts on college choices.