A lot of college acceptances have been coming in recently. Parents and teens are feeling incredibly overwhelmed in the decision making process because of the changes that have occurred within the world, but more specifically on college campuses.
For those individuals who require additional support (both academic and emotional) what is the best way to determine the “goodness of fit” with a particular college? Is staying close to home now more important on the list of priorities?
First, What Makes A College A Good Fit For You?
Most students have a favorite college or university in mind that they think is the best fit for them. It may not always be an objective measure of a good fit, but it is important that they get to use this “voting process” to narrow down the top college choices.
Aside from that, a college is a good fit if it:
- Is affordable to you or your family
- Offers strong degrees in your career choice or the fields you are interested in
- Provides access to internships
- Mostly has students who are on the same academic level as you (in other words, have similar GPAs and test scores)
- Has personalized, strong student support in place
- Has a good reputation and is regionally accredited
- Provides instructors for first year and lower level classes who are full time faculty, rather than part timers who may be stretched thin by working on more than one campus
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has added another qualification to this list, though – what about safety? What measures has the school taken to ensure the health of their student community? Is the college located in a Covid hotspot?
If you stay home and take your college classes completely online, you’ll no doubt be safer, but there are a myriad of other things to ask yourself (and answer honestly) about attending virtually, such as:
- Are you able to learn effectively with remote instruction?
- Will you be able to find a quiet place to study at home?
- How will you feel if you miss out on the “college experience” you can only get by being on a campus?
- Does online learning frustrate you?
- Will you be motivated to do your coursework online or are you easily distracted?
- How will being more isolated, with a lack of social connections make you feel?
- Would you be okay with finishing your degree on campus once the pandemic ends? Don’t choose a virtual school just because it’s online – be sure you would have wanted to go there if we were living under normal circumstances.
Are Virtual College Visits Worth It?
At any other time, in-person college tours would be available to help you make a better decision about which school is a good fit. Due to the pandemic, however, many colleges and universities have cut back on or eliminated campus tours altogether. Instead, they are offering safer virtual tours.
The drawback to virtual tours is that they may not show you a real view of campus life. Instead, they could be more like a travel video that highlights only the best parts of the campus and housing. They might show you certain areas of the campus, a sterilized slice of campus life, and only include interviews with select students or faculty who will present the college in its best light.
A better choice, if any of the schools you’re deciding between offer it, is to sign up to take a live, virtual guided tour with a student. They’ll walk around the campus and answer your questions via a live stream, so you’ll at least get more insight into life on campus.
In addition, many schools are offering live virtual workshops, which allow you to get answers to questions about their degree programs, housing, financial aid, and so on.
You could also try connecting with current students on social media, through platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. This way you’ll get an overview of the current safety protocols, how the college has communicated with students during the pandemic, and whether they are following CDC guidelines.
In a normal year, it can be difficult to choose between colleges, but the pandemic has put a different twist on college selection. Obviously, safety is a priority, but you also must be sure to choose a school that is supportive to students and is an academic fit, as well as a financial and social fit.
In addition, consider the college’s distance from your home to decide whether you’d be comfortable flying there (or home) when school begins or on school breaks, assuming Covid restrictions are still ongoing. If you wouldn’t, then it might be best to only consider schools within driving distance or those which are strictly online.
We Are Here For You
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression due to the ongoing pandemic, we are here to help. Contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us at 561-496-1094 today.