2021s - How will you judge how colleges do this fall?

D21 has a list of colleges. Like a lot of 2021s, she still needs a test and we had to cancel college visits this spring. We plan on keeping a close eye on how the schools on her list do this fall with the virus. She is considering using ED so that only gives us until 11/1 to see how things are going on each campus.

I’d like to see what percent of class is in person, how extracurriculars are going, if the colleges were able to house and feed the students in a way that kept the experience as close to normal as possible. I want to see how their testing goes and how they keep cases from spinning out of control.

I understand that all of this could be a pipe dream and maybe kids won’t go back to school this fall but, assuming they do, how would you all be judging schools? And how much will this actually matter to your 2021’s decision to apply? We don’t have a crystal ball and we won’t know by the ED deadline what the 2021-2022 college season will look like. Is that keeping you from using ED? Maybe we will all have more of a grip by the May 1 RD decision date…

My D21’s an average stats kid. 3.6, 1 AP this year and 1 next year, 23 ACT and no SAT yet. She is scheduled for both Aug/Sept. So her aspirations are modest – she will stay in state and hope to have the opportunity to go away. Her sister is headed off to school this fall (as of now), so at least we have the advantage of watching and learning. A couple of the schools she likes offer some money for GPA/test score, so she will pick whatever school offers the best deal of those she chooses to apply to.

I think it’s a little easier for her, partially because she has another year for the world to get used to this situation, and partially because she won’t be spending a lot of money compared to some. She will get a good education and have the experience she is meant to have. I hope.

My D is watching how the schools handle the virus a little bit, but we think most schools will be similar by 2021.

It’s more about whether there will be enough of an on campus environment to make it worth the cost. If so then she probably will ED somewhere. It seems crazy to commit $75k a year to hang out alone in a dorm room and take half your classes online.

She seems more open to a public school with a big merit scholarship and save her money for grad school.

@cstp28 @AlwaysMoving so you both don’t seem to really be considering how fall goes with the colleges on the list? I’m thinking about digging pretty deep into that and asking a lot of questions plus talking to students at those schools.

What if one of the top schools on your kids’ lists has pretty poor remote classes? What if kids can’t meet at all with professors? What if housing is a big mess? I want to know how schools plan and how they treat their students. For example, some schools acted quickly in the spring and kids had ways to move out or at least to go back in the spring and get their stuff. Others rushed kids out late and their stuff is still sitting in dorms. Some schools already have been thoughtful about their fall where others don’t seem to be as open about their plans.

Would you change the search and either add schools that handle this well or drop schools if they really make a mess of it?

With 2 kids - Class of 2021 (and one Class of 2022 waiting in the wings) my 2021s plan on submitting an ED app - at this moment in time. One has a strong ED2 choice too. Other child is a recruited D1 athlete - so that comes in to play regarding her sport and how that is handled too.

I am definitely watching what will/is happening. We have told our kids that we could pull our support for a school that is not managing Covid - both regarding safety and communication. The kids are not even thinking about this issue with colleges and that is fine with us for now.

I am already turned off by one east coast LAC that cancelled my daughter’s spring visit with an email that said “we see you are coming from a state with a high % of covid cases, therefore we are cancelling your tour”. Visitors from the following States (and they listed about 7 States) are not allowed on campus at this time. School was still in session in our State and no stay at home order was in place yet - so was my daughter’s first real taste of what was coming. A few weeks later the college cancelled for everyone (and we were now on stay at home) and students moved off campus, but not a great way to message to a 17 year old. I respect that they cancelled - but not how they communicated. I would like to see that school fall off her list - but keeping my mouth shut for now.

A peer school sent an email cancelling all visits and started the email with “We know you will be disappointed and we are sorry” - much nicer way to message.

I am hoping we will know a lot more by ED deadlines, but everything seems up in the air for now for the the 2020-21 school year.

I am not optimistic that we will be able to tour anywhere in the Fall, as why would a college want additional bodies on campus? We have been told that coaches may travel to meet with athletes in my daughter’s sport, as they are not hopefully they will be able to host official visits in the Fall.

I get it and glad we are healthy and just trying to adjust to the “new” normal and think it is a very important piece to the decision puzzle with how colleges are managing this health crisis.

@coffeeat3 right. That’s the kind of stuff I’m thinking about. As for fall visits, I’ve been told that some of the LACs on D’s list will definitely be hosting prospective students but tours will be small and there won’t be overnights. We’ve spoke to AOs at those schools.

@homerdog – both D20 and D21 have a lot of friends/former teammates who attend the schools that my D21 is interested in. Actually, one of her schools is the one my D20 is headed to this August, so that will be helpful! Between reports from the girls’ friends and reports from my Facebook village, I’m confident that we will get all kinds of info as needed. D21 is not planning on applying ED anywhere. She will apply to all the schools she is interested in, rank them by cost and preference, and then research the situations there. I’m glad they don’t have to make a decision until spring. We’ll have more info then.

Some of it might be luck as well. Two colleges may do similar modifications, but one of them hits the negative lottery jackpot and has a superspreading incident that includes someone who hits the negative lottery jackpot in terms of seriousness of results, while the other may not have many instances of infection, all of which are minor.

"I’d like to see what percent of class is in person, how extracurriculars are going, if the colleges were able to house and feed the students in a way that kept the experience as close to normal as possible. "

Whatever they do will be their new normal. You can judge if you like it or not, but don’t expect it to be like it was. Might be better (I personally like a little personal space and am glad to see casual hugging gone). Maybe the one thing you really liked is still there or maybe its gone.

@twoinanddone ???

Why would what a school does this fall be their new normal? It’s going to take some time, of course, but we aren’t going to be living like this for the next five years. The “one thing I like” is a personalized experience with lots of interaction so that’s why we will be watching.

I don’t think schools will ‘go back.’ If they change doubles to two singles, that’s what they’ll stick with. If they have limited seating areas in cafeterias, that will be the new normal. Even if there is a vaccine, it will take 5+ years for everyone to get it. Polio vaccines took a decade to get to even a small percentage of the population.

However, I don’t think schools will be as restricted in the fall as the first ideas were. I don’t think classes will be limited to 10 or that students will be in their dorm rooms all the time. I think students will find groups to socialize with just like they always have. Maybe there won’t be invitations to dinner at a professor’s house or professors hanging around drinking coffee after class. The schools will have some rules on paper and leave it up to staff and students to police themselves.

If/when an effective vaccine is readily available, colleges will want to return classes to the classrooms sized for them, rather than having to use classrooms significantly larger than the class size.

For dorms, if they convert a double into two singles, they may not change back. But if they reduce capacity by changing triples into doubles or doubles into singles, then they may want to go back so that they can offer more students dorm space and/or not have to rent nearby hotels or whatever.

Stanford just released their tentative plan - 2 grades on campus each quarter and adding a summer quarter. Each grade will be assigned their 2 quarters and take 3rd quarter off campus. Of course, all tentative based on California. I agree it will be a new normal for years and time will tell if colleges ever look how we remember.

I wouldn’t judge a college based on its stated intent or “plan”. I would judge it based on what it actually did during the outbreak in the spring and what it does in the fall to prevent, or to deal with, another outbreak.

@homerdog I have a friend whose son will be attending a school this fall that is at the top of your D’s list. He applied ED and is full pay.

She says all the time that while she hopes he gets a “normal”
experience, she understands that he might not (at least for quite some time, if ever) and that they are going to roll with the punches. Some things are beyond our control. I asked if he would have applied differently if coronavirus was going on during the ED period, and she said no. The school he loved pre-covid is the school he is willing to accept in the midst of covid…whatever that brings.

It’s harder for your D because she might not have a typical season to visit schools.

I think it’s going to be difficult for schools to keep things as normal as possible, while at the same time keeping the cases from spiraling out of control. On some level …there will be luck involved. All it takes is for one student to go away for a weekend…

First by 2021 there will be a standard way of dealing with COVID on campus. Sure each school will have their own twist, but it’ll be very similar. Schools that are less restrictive are just willing to take more risks and will probably have more strict regulated periods because of flare ups.

ED will be before the new standard is known, so it will be tough to pull the trigger on an expensive school.

My D21 isn’t interested in LACs at all, so we’re not looking for the personalized teaching and hands on learning. She is looking at labs which will almost all be open.

We’re a very numbers/data oriented family, so we look at college for a defined ROI. I’m not saying we are right and everyone else should do this. It’s just the way we’re wired. If there are a lot of classes online her best ROI will probably be to take a big merit scholarship and then use her college fund for grad school. That’s what her older sibling has done and it makes the current situation less stressful.

Outside of wasting money, our biggest concern is hidden cuts she doesn’t know about until she is there. We all know colleges are going to have to slash spending, and they’re not going to advertise what they cut.

ETA: we feel like COVID will be around and impacting colleges for at least 2021 and most likely 2022, so we think her college experience will not be the old way. That’s why we’re not interested in spending money for campus stuff. We’d rather her take online classes and live in the South of France or some other crazy place.

This is the most important factor for me. As my son will be a college freshman in August, it will be too late for us to choose a school based on how the colleges react to the pandemic. However, if his university removes a lot of the personalized experience by utilizing remote classrooms and eliminating most student activities, it will significantly influence his and my decision of whether he would return for 2021.

Other schools on his list have already notified him they would love to accept him as a sophomore transfer next year, so we know good options will be there. To me, having class in a room full of students who converse with a professor is the paramount reason for attending a university. If a school removes that, they remove the reason to attend.

I don’t have a crystal ball, but have absolutely told D19 that her next six semesters might not be ‘normal’, and that she has to at some level prepare for that mentally. Along the lines of hope for the best, prepare for the worst type thinking.

S21, well we are still waiting for him to get engaged in the process!

@AlwaysMoving You bring up a lot of good points.

I’d like to watch (1) if the smaller schools on her list are able to rescue enough of the experience that it’s worth the money and (2) if the difference in the experience between a smaller school and a bigger school shrinks or if it’s more noticeable that ever.

Will the larger schools just take the easy way out and have class mostly remote when students are still allowed on campus? Will smaller schools be able to be more creative and nimble and get closer to the experience D wants? Or will those LACs look more like the big public colleges in some ways now because they’ll have to give up a lot of the characteristics that make them desirable?

I want to believe that the schools on her list will still be “worth it”. Her top choices have sizable endowments. I understand this crisis has hit all schools but I think these types of schools are likely to cut fewer programs and “extras”. I wonder if wealthier schools will be even more different than their public school counterparts now that this has happened. Right now, we are banking on that. But if we see these expensive schools pulling back on the special things they offer, we might need to re-evaluate.

As for comparing schools on her list to each other (most of which are very small and the others still on the small/medium side), I wouldn’t hold it against a school if they were “unlucky” with the virus. I would be looking at how well they handle whatever situation they find themselves in. BUT, if we see that schools with warmer weather are able to get closer to the normal experience, that could be a point of differentiation for sure.

The differences between the plans schools put in place may be in part impacted by the state they are in and the guidelines put in place by their governors and local officials. So it may be hard and perhaps unfair to compare a school in a state/area that was a hotspot, to a school in a state that was less impacted by Covid.