As students approach the end of their high school career, they most often have an idea of what they want to do after graduation. Whether it is going to a four-year university, community college, trade school, or going directly into the workforce, many students know which direction they are leaning.
Due to COVID-19, many students have begun to rethink their decision to attend college the following fall after graduation.
“I planned to attend four years at OSU right out of high school. I’m still planning on going to college, but I have decided to attend two of the first years at a community college,” senior Emily Fendall-York said.
COVID-19 has also been the cause of many cancelled events this past year. Cancelled SATs, ACTs, PSATs, college visits/ tours, and college fairs have put both the class of 2020 and 2021 at a disadvantage in the college application process.
“I was planning on aiming high for out-of-state four-year universities, and I honestly used to stake myself esteem and sense of worth on being able to meet outrageous standards. This past year has been a much needed reality check,” senior Jack Billard said. “Without an SAT, I am restricted to test-optional schools, which landed me at OSU. I lost all ambition during the pandemic with every cancellation, and I am glad and grateful to have some plans to look forward to again.”
Some students who were planning on attending college and getting a job prior to COVID-19 have been unable to work. College tuition is very expensive so having the money from a job makes paying for college much more manageable.
“Prior to COVID-19, I was hoping to save money from my job that I was going to get in the summer of 2020. I was unable to get a job due to the fires and COVID-19. My plans prior to COVID-19 for college have not changed except for the fact that I may have to take classes online,” senior Nicolette Mackey said.
College tuition rates have always been a concern for many families, but especially now during the pandemic. Families have lost their jobs, hours have been cut, and businesses have been shut down. It is also difficult knowing if degrees earned during COVID-19 will be treated the same as degrees earned before hand.
“I think tuition is overpriced because students will be teaching themselves more than ever. However, I don’t know how future employers will view college degrees obtained during COVID-19. They might think you are an amazing student because you were able to pull off getting a degree or they might think your degree is illegitimate,” Andrew Hokanson said.
According to an article from OPB, U of O even raised tuition rates for incoming in-state freshmen next year by 4.5%. U of O is not the only college continuing to raise tuition prices during this time.
“I do believe attending a four-year college where you are unable to attend classes like normal is a waste of money, because you could be getting the same or better education at a community college,” senior Rachel Urback said.
People now have to consider if paying for full tuition is worth having a COVID-19 college experience. This includes online classes, quarantining, restricted gatherings, and many cancelled traditional events.
“I do believe that the rising cost of tuition is a huge problem in America with the pandemic. And many have expressed to me that even with virtual college, the tuition stayed the same. Where this is the case, the financial burden becomes even more outrageous while reducing what little rewarding experiences there are left to have,” Billard said. “I do think that everyone should try to seek as much education as they can, whether or not this includes college. However, colleges need to combat the economic issues that students face when the cost even comes close to exceeding the benefit.”
On the other hand, taking a gap year could also set you back. It is not easy taking a year or more off of schooling to travel or experience the world, to have to return to learning. Having these experiences also cost a lot of money and can chip away at the money you have for tuition.
“If you wait until after the pandemic, then you have wasted so much time and you will likely be less motivated to go back to school,” senior Kaya Greenfield said.
Gap years have become more popular this year because of COVID-19. Taking a year off of school is the right choice for many people whether it’s to save money, take care of family, or to wait until COVID-19 ends to not risk exposure.
“If you think that you do not want to go to college I would apply to colleges anyway because something dramatic could happen and change your mind,” Mackey said.
This time of uncertainty has been beneficial for some students. Having the time at home to really think about what they want to do with their life in the future has helped students plan for the future.
“Who knows when all of this is going to calm down again and go back to almost normal so do it now instead of waiting. After graduation I wasn’t too sure of my plan at all, I just knew I wanted to go to college to become an elementary school teacher. After I applied to many schools, I have now made a decision and I’m most likely going to be attending Western Oregon,” senior Haylee Lutz said.As the end of senior year approaches, students are still deciding on what they want to pursue after graduation. It is important to consider all options, such as going to a community college then transferring to a four-year university after completing prerequisites. As Mackey said, “this will save you a lot of money in the long run if you do not have scholarships.”