Juniors and seniors persevere to explore colleges during a pandemic

DHS+students+explore+the+challenges+regarding+canceled+college+visits+due+to+COVID-19.

Graphic by Hunter Finerty

DHS students explore the challenges regarding canceled college visits due to COVID-19.

Hunter Finerty, Web Editor

All across the country, juniors and seniors are preparing for their futures. During any school year, this is a stressful time for juniors as they begin to research colleges, as well as for seniors as they make final decisions on where to attend in the fall. This year presents a unique challenge with college campuses being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many juniors, campus visits are the ultimate step in narrowing down potential college matches. 

Junior Megan Brownell planned to visit the University of Kansas, Emporia State University and Texas Tech University throughout the coming months. Each of the three tours were canceled when the campuses closed for the semester.

“It’s going to make me feel very rushed this fall as I’m going to try to do those missed tours in person with people on the campus,” Brownell said. 

Though traditional campus tours provide a distinctive opportunity to experience the atmosphere of a college, many universities have offered virtual information sessions to compensate for canceled tours. 

“All of the schools I had planned to visit emailed me about their online virtual tours, but to me, it just is not the same,” Brownell said. “I don’t get a feel for the campus and see how big it really is. When students are there on a school day the vibe is different, and I want to be able to see if I like it.”

Junior Adam Kellogg had a similar experience when making plans to visit colleges before the end of the year.

“I wanted to go see KU and their medical school since that’s where I want to eventually go. My plans to attend classes that are prerequisites for the nursing program at JCCC were also canceled,” Kellogg said. 

Kellogg also felt that online tour opportunities did not realistically represent the atmosphere for universities. 

“It’s frustrating to get online and hear a lot of hype about the school when you can’t tell if they’re being 100 percent honest,” Kellogg said.

While current seniors had the opportunity to narrow down their list of colleges last year, many still face challenges when determining what their first year of college will look like. 

Senior Ashlen Boresow plans to pursue musical theater in college. In order to be admitted to a theater program, students have to audition for the program in addition to applying to the college itself.

“I did these auditions in February at the Unifields in Chicago, but I was waiting until I heard back from the programs that were at the event because most of them are far away. I only wanted to go on visits if I knew I actually made it into the program and could actually go to the school,” Boresow said. 

Boresow received correspondence from most interested schools in March, so she arranged visits to take place during the month of April. Similar to Brownell, her tours were canceled when campuses closed. 

Because she is a senior, college closures may impact Boresow’s plans after high school. 

“I was still waiting until May 1 to hear from one of the schools at the top of my list, but with the circumstances of the pandemic, they moved their date back a month,” Boresow said. “Since I won’t be hearing from them until June, I have had to look into my back-up options, including the possibility of taking a gap year.”