This is the time of year when college acceptances start coming in. Right now, both teens and parents are feeling incredibly overwhelmed in the decision making process, due to the pandemic. When looking at acceptance letters, what is the best way to determine what makes a college a good fit for them? Is staying close to home now the top priority?
Often, high school seniors have a favorite college or university in mind, which they hope to attend because they think is best for them. While this may not always be an objective measure of a good fit, it is important that your child gets to include this college in their process of narrowing down the top college choices.
Aside from this, a college can be considered a good fit if it:
- Provides strong degrees in your teen’s chosen career field
- Offers access to internships
- Is made up of students who are on the same academic level as your teen (for example, they have similar test scores and GPAs)
- Provides personalized, strong student support
- Is regionally accredited, with a good reputation
- Has full time faculty teaching first year and lower level classes, rather than part timers who may be stretched thin from working on multiple campuses
- Is affordable to your family
This year, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has added another “must” to this list: safety. When choosing a college during Covid, be sure to research which measures the school has taken to ensure the health of their student community. Also check into whether the college is located in a Covid hot spot.
If your teen feels more comfortable staying home and attending college virtually, you can be assured they’ll be safer. There are a number of other factors to consider about attending remotely, however, such as:
- Does online learning frustrate them?
- Are they able to learn effectively with remote instruction?
- Will they be able to find a quiet place to study at home?
- How will they feel if they miss out on the “college experience” they will only get by being on a campus?
- Are they motivated to do their coursework online or do they get distracted easily?
- Will they feel more isolated due to the lack of social connections?
- Once the pandemic ends, will they be okay with finishing their degree at that school? Your child should never choose a particular college just because it’s online. They should be satisfied with their choice if we were living under normal circumstances.
Are Virtual College Visits Important?
In the pre-pandemic world, in-person college tours were available to help teens make better decisions about which school was best for them. Due to Covid restrictions, however, many colleges and universities have either reduced or eliminated campus tours altogether. Instead, many are offering safer virtual tours.
The problem with a virtual tour is that they may not show you a real view of campus life. Instead, they could be more sanitized, like a travel video that only highlights the best housing and areas of the campus. You might only see certain places on campus, get a scripted version of college life, and only hear interviews from select faculty or students who will present the school in its best light.
A better choice, if the schools you’re deciding on offer it, is to sign up for a live, virtual guided tour. These remote visits allow the host to walk around the campus and answer your questions via a live stream, so you’ll at least get more insight into life at the school.
In addition, many colleges and universities are offering live virtual workshops. During these, you’ll to get to ask questions about their degree programs, financial aid packages, dining plans, and so on.
To get an overview of the current safety protocols or to learn how the college has communicated with students during the pandemic, your teen could also try connecting with current students on social media. By using platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, they should be able to find out whether the school is following CDC guidelines.
Wrapping It Up
Even under normal circumstances, it can be difficult to choose between colleges. This year, however, the pandemic has made college selection even more problematic. While your teen’s safety is a top priority, you must balance that with choosing a school that is also an academic fit, supportive to students, and a social and financial fit.
In addition, consider the college’s distance from your home. If it is far away, will your teen (or you) be comfortable flying back and forth on school breaks, assuming Covid restrictions are still ongoing? If they wouldn’t, it might be best to only consider schools within driving distance or those that are strictly online.
We Are Here For You
If your child is experiencing anxiety or depression due to the ongoing pandemic, we are here to help. For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.