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    College Class of 2024: To College Or Not To College?

    Posted July 23, 2020, 4:15 pm by Joyce Slayton Mitchell
    class of 2024

    Change. Change is and will be the action word in your life now and for the next few academic years. Easy for the rest of us to say, and so hard for you and your family to hear, imagine, and figure out. There is change from the colleges every day about what to do with their freshman class of 2024.

    You will have heard of online classes for next year, new registration dates, change in prices, students on or not on campus and in or not in residence halls. Classes for on-campus students for one-semester, followed by a semester online.

    Priority given to freshman and seniors who plan to graduate in May. Half of the freshmen on campus for first semester, and the other half starting on campus in second semester, alternating with on-campus and on-line off-campus.

    How to figure it all out? Check first your choices with the college where you have sent your deposit. Think about you, as a first year away from home student with new classmates in those on-campus and on-line residential plans offered for 2020.

    What Can I Do If College is Not Right For Me, Right Now?

    There are also countless opportunities for taking a year off from college. Here are a few ideas to consider, realizing that these options can change momentarily. Check them out for ideas that you can adapt to suit your preferences:

    1. Take a year off before your freshman year. Think of something that you can safely do, that will be OK with you and your parents. There are many fee-required programs, under the heading of "GAP YEAR." There are also internships and service programs all over American that are organized especially for this pandemic year. Go online and see what you can find.
      • For example, Team Rubicon offers a list of different community service opportunities that revolve around alleviating the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    2. Look for teen service opportunities, such as community outreach or food delivery for at-risk individuals.
    3. Search online for more high school graduate opportunities” for jobs or sports or arts or whatever type of activity that interests you.
    4. Create your own idea after reading some of the above ideas. Someone else doesn't have to organize your time if you can think of how to spend next year within your family or with a few friends who are also looking to take a college year off.
    5. Home college online. If you want to stay at home and take college credit courses next fall, then check out the plan at your deposited college. Also check with non-credit courses you would like to take at other colleges without enrolling in the college. It might be a physics or philosophy or arts course that you don't intend to study when you get on campus, but a great opportunity to find out what it's all about.

    No matter your choice of going to college in fall semester or to wait a year, you will have plenty of company among other high school graduates either way. Every day the colleges are working tirelessly to find the safest way to handle their particular campus and create solutions to help their students and faculty to the best education they can provide.

    How Are Colleges Approaching the Fall 2020 School Year?

    At this moment, about 61% of the colleges have decided to have students on campus. Usually that means freshman, at least half of them for the first semester, and the other half on campus for the second semester, so that you can meet your new classmates, get to know your school and the level of academic work expected from you.

    Some state universities - UC universities, for example - have decided that they are too big to safely have undergraduates on campus in 2020. Other state universities are accepting a modified enrollment of students, with a mixed program of in-class and on-line learning, such as UVM (University of Vermont). Take a look at their website to get an idea of how UVM and other state universities may organize freshman year.

    A typical U.S. liberal arts residential college (1,500 to 2,000 students) such as Amherst College in Western (rural) Massachusetts has spelled out how they are going to manage their freshman class. If your college hasn’t yet sent you their solution for freshman on campus this fall, then take a look at how Amherst is planning in order to have an idea of a liberal arts solution for on-campus students in 2020.

    Use these two examples to give you ideas of questions to ask your college (how many in a dorm room, are meals provided in distanced seating, will there be in-class instruction, sports, music and arts activities) and whatever else is on your mind.

    Leaving for College or Staying for College: It Is Always Up to You

    Parents, teachers and friends of teenagers: think back to your high school graduation and looking forward to leaving home with your classmates for college. Can you possibly imagine being persuaded to stay home another year because of a national health factor? Can you imagine waiting to find out if classes will be in the classroom or a mix of online and in the classroom?

    Can you imagine giving up being in a dormitory, even if everyone is in a single room, and meals are served by pick-up meals around the campus with various outdoor and distanced dining areas for a whole year?

    Thinking back to 17- or 18- years old, it all sounds wonderful to me, “If I can just get on that campus and be in college!” Wait! A friend who graduated years and years ago, just told me that there is no way he would take that risk if he could get those credits online at home.

    There you are... it's your choice according to who you are and what your opportunities are. Living with this global pandemic with your classmates or with your family or both will be your choice. Ahhh college. Ready or not, but still, "The Class of 2024 marches on!"

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    Joyce Slayton Mitchell

    Joyce Slayton Mitchell

    Joyce Slayton Mitchell, former public and school college counselor, author of WHO IS THIS KID? COLLEGES WANT TO KNOW! Writing Exercises for Winning Applications, 2019; 8 First Choices: Strategies for Getting in, 4th Edition, 2020. Education Consultant for U.S. College Admissions, US and China.