Will Universities Open This Fall?

Alexandra Grech

New York Times

The Coronavirus has temporarily put the world on lockdown and we are all wondering the same thing: when will everything go back to normal?

This global pandemic has taken over and changed the way we live, forcing us to adapt to new conditions. Schools across the nation were forced to shut down in mid-March and still remain closed. One burning question in the minds of students accepted to attend college this fall is if the universities will even be able to open.

There is no definitive answer on when this pandemic will end or if it will strike again. The concern for most parents is paying thousands of dollars for their child to attend a university when there is a possibility that students will need to continue with online school in the fall because it is not safe for them to go back yet. Universities have spoken about what they plan to do in the fall regarding their students, but many are unsure of what will happen until the new school year gets closer. 

All of this uncertainty has students rethinking their decisions. Some students who were planning to go to a university are now thinking about attending community college because they do not want to pay thousands of dollars when they may just be stuck taking online classes. Johnny Kennevan, a senior at Seneca High School in Tabernacle, New Jersey, says, “It doesn’t make sense to pay twenty grand to sit at my computer at home and take online courses,” he said. “You can get the same education from a community college,” (nytimes.com). Many students and parents at UHS are feeling the same way.

According to CNBC, “Early signs that college enrollment will dip significantly next semester have raised concerns among the thousands of small and medium-sized colleges that rely on student tuition to remain open, rather than drawing from multimillion-dollar endowments.” Colleges are scrambling to fix budget holes from having to refund students for housing and dining in March when everything started closing. On top of that, they have to worry about this year’s incoming freshman so that their enrollment does not have a massive decline. Many colleges have extended enrollment deposit deadlines to June 1st so that students have time to consider their options. 

Students find that they do not have the same motivation to do schoolwork at home compared to when they are on campus. For Ryan Sessoms, a marketing student at the University of North Florida, the transition to online classes has been tough. He told USA Today, “The thought of paying the same amount of tuition for another semester of lackluster classes is a nonstarter. It’s harder to find the motivation to complete my assignments at home,” (usatoday.com).

Incoming freshmen listen to current college students and agree that they do not want to be stuck doing online classes in the fall because it will not be worth the money and they will not be able to receive the full college experience.

The Coronavirus is affecting people’s present and future in so many unexpected ways. The bottom line is that there’s still no direct answer on whether or not colleges will reopen in the fall. Students and parents are going to have to make some decisions now on their future plans and hope that they work out for the best. Many things are still up in the air and no one knows for certain how much this pandemic is going to change by fall.