Columbia University Fall 2020: What Should I do??? Help!!

Hello everyone,

I would like to ask for some advice about an issue related to this coming fall semester.

I am an incoming freshman at Columbia university, and I am currently finishing up my gap year overseas while staying with family in South America before attending college this fall as a pre-med.

Due to the current pandemic, Columbia has made an announcement a few days ago saying that they will make “flexible use of the Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 terms,” and that one of their committees is weighing the possibility of having “various forms of remote, in-person, and hybrid instruction.” However, an official plan for the coming academic year will only be given in July.

This announcement made me anxious as to what I should do for this coming fall semester, and I would like to ask some advice due to the following problems that I have:

  1. If I am required to move to Campus this fall, I will have to buy my airline ticket as soon as possible before July comes. My mother is currently unemployed, and the longer we wait to buy our tickets the more expensive they will get until we won’t be able to afford them anymore.

  2. I would love to move to campus, but I have a severe asthma condition which puts me at high risk of the COVID19 virus. I am afraid that if I went to New York now I could get exposed, and I wouldn’t have any family members living in the US to take care of me.

  3. If I am given the option to take online classes, I am afraid of how that will affect my pre-med track. I have visited several medical school application websites and most of them said that they would accept online courses from the spring and summer 2020 semesters as a fulfillment for application requirements, but no mention of fall 2020. As a result, I am afraid that if I take any important courses for my pre-med track this coming fall, especially labs, they will not be accepted for my medical school application in the future.

I would deeply appreciate if anyone could give me any advice on a course of action. Should I buy my airline ticket now? Is it likely that Columbia will give the option of taking online courses? Which is the best option when taking the points above into account? I already contacted Columbia asking for help, but they said they couldn’t give me a solid answer until July.

Thank you in advance for any input you guys are able to give!

I would imagine that your third point wont be anything to worry about. For example if the lab class in the fall at Columbia is not offered in person I don’t think your medical school would find fault in that. And if they did, I’m sorry but that’s out of your control.

Also, I have been reading that having asthma does not lead to a worse outcome. My teen has asthma and I had been very worried about this. I am somewhat relieved when I read studies that found asthmatics with covid dont have higher hospitalizations or mortality rates compared with other Covid patients .

Where is home for you? I am just wondering where you will be flying into if not New York City? Does it make sense to fly home from South America and then fly into New York City?

Where will you go if you live in the dorms and school is interrupted during the year?

By the way I am a Barnard graduate.