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Why Colleges’ Coronavirus Responses Matter To Your Decision

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Many high school seniors would have relished the chance to visit their prospective colleges, size them up in person and to know how their college treats their students.

For me, college tours breathed life into the static images adorning their profiles. But for this year’s seniors, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the definition of a normal college search experience.

The pandemic ended many students’ chances to have the college search experiences that I did. They had to find other ways to choose which schools they would apply to and not rely so heavily on the pretty pics and artsy Instagram shots of the campus (which is an overrated judgment standard anyway!).

My advice to seniors applying to colleges right now: Pay close attention to how colleges have reacted and dealt with the pandemic.


You need a college administration that supports its students.

The virus, as far as most scientists and policy leaders can tell, is not going anywhere. And so, university officials’ actions and decisions to this point are great indicators for how they’ll handle the pandemic going forward and how they’ll react in the face of future sudden and unexpected crises.

Many schools, mine included, have turned their backs on their students during this time. Some have even repeatedly made catastrophic decisions that have hurt greatly their students’ physical, mental and financial wellness. They have hung their students out to dry during a time when they need leadership most.

However, there have also been universities who have stepped up.

I’ve seen friends at other schools have great experiences, even in the midst of the pandemic. Their schools have prioritized their students’ academics and mental health. Instead of clamping the purse shut, they have spent the necessary funds on testing for the coronavirus, quarantining facilities and embracing advanced health and safety standards. They didn’t throw up their hands and shrug when they received questions from the student body, parents and the public.

If you have been a little checked out lately, you’ll likely find your top schools’ reaction to the pandemic in the national or local news. I recommend checking news sites’ archives to find how the colleges you are interested in organized themselves.

If you happen to know any students at those schools, reach out to them, too. Current students often have the perspective you want, since you hope to be in their shoes eventually.

Ask them: Did your college make empty promises? Did they require full tuition for online classes? What is their coronavirus testing procedure like?

A pretty campus — whether you experience it online or in person — means nothing without a supportive administration. College has enough stress associated with it; you shouldn’t need to worry about your university abandoning you in your time of need.

For this year’s seniors, the inability to see the campus in real life might be a blessing in disguise: It will allow them to dig deeper to find a place where they not only belong but are cared for.

More College Students Respond to COVID-19

Author: Jenna Spray

Jenna is a second year journalism student at Northwestern University with a concentration in law. She writes about fitness and relationships for Her Campus Northwestern and works on the corporate section of her school’s most popular magazine, North by Northwestern. In her free time, Jenna likes to sail, go to the gym, and eat pasta with her friends.