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How Will the Coronavirus Affect Going to College?

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If you’re in high school and plan on going off to college at some point in the next couple years, the coronavirus has put you in uncharted territory. Pass-fail grades, delayed SATs, and cancelled extra curriculars can put a giant question mark on your college application. How will the coronavirus impact going to college?

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices. Download lesson plan and get started on KQED Learn.

How will the coronavirus affect admissions?

The expert we interviewed says that colleges will be very flexible when it comes to admissions, because they realize how much coronavirus has disrupted everyone’s lives. However, the COVID-19 lockdown affects some students more than others, including those applying to college. Take the SATs. In normal times, wealthier students have access to tutors and test prep programs that can help deliver better scores. Lower income students typically can’t afford that stuff, and during coronavirus, they’re at an even BIGGER disadvantage because they have to deal with tough situations like a parent losing a job or not having internet access for online courses.

How will the coronavirus affect financial aid and scholarships?

Many colleges are experiencing a budget crisis, but our expert still thinks that schools may offer more aid than they usually do, because they understand that many families have been hit hard economically. Now that’s great news, but you’re not gonna get financial aid if you don’t apply for it. And unfortunately, as of mid-April, there’s been a near 3 percent decline in students applying for financial aid compared to last year. What that most likely means is that tens of thousands of students now feel college is out of reach due to all the money problems that COVID-19 is causing.


What will the day-to-day of college look like?

As the summer unfolds, more and more colleges will be making their own decisions about what classes will look like. Colleges are going to come up with different solutions: Some might decide to go fully online for the semester like Cal Poly. Most will probably have some combination of limited in-person classes and online classes. Every college is gonna have to figure out what works best for them and their students. And in the long term, it’s unclear if college will go back to the way it was before the coronavirus, or if the pandemic has permanently altered what “going to college” means.


What’s going to happen at colleges this fall? Here are 15 scenarios (PBS)

Here’s a List of Colleges’ Plans for Reopening in the Fall (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Coronavirus: University of California campuses will open in the fall, Napolitano says  (San Jose Mercury News)

Fewer Students Apply for College Financial Aid, a Sign Coronavirus May Disrupt Enrollment (The Wall Street Journal)

For This Year’s College-Bound, The Future Is In Turmoil (KQED) 

6 Ways College Might Look Different In The Fall (KQED) 

How will COVID-19 change our schools in the long run? (Brookings Institute)


We partnered with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs for this episode. Check out their journalism resources for students: https://studentreportinglabs.org/


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