No matter who you are, where you’re from, and what you are, things in the past 20 months have been vastly similar for everyone. If you have kids in school, then they have also experienced online learning. If you have toddlers, then you have also watched them get bored, throw tantrums like never before, and generally be curious about life outside the four walls of your house. The coronavirus pandemic was brutal, but all the more depressing was the fact that people had to stay indoors and away from family and friends as they watched their lives get disrupted.
These are unprecedented times that even the way your kid will decide where to go to college will change. How do you help them understand that their dreams of college might not be possible anymore? What are the options in front of you right now? The first thing you need to remember is to consider all options. Don’t leave anything unturned. In a world forever changed by the catastrophes of public health, financial setbacks, and distancing measures, knowing how to pivot is to everyone’s advantage.
Crunch the Numbers
This is the most important step in picking a college for your kids. Can you afford it? Have they been accepted to a scholarship? Are they willing to work part-time while they attend classes? If you cannot afford it (whether because of the pandemic or not) and there’s no scholarship waiting, there’s no use to talk about certain branded schools. You have to be honest with your kids about that lest misunderstandings occur in the future.
Visit Colleges and Universities
If you already have a shortlist of colleges and universities you want to check out, then go on a road trip with your kids to visit them. This can turn into a family outing, too. Contact the university to see if you can schedule a tour. If they don’t allow it in the meantime, settle for online college tours. They are as good as the real thing because of technology, so just try to imagine walking along the hallways and spending time in the outdoor spaces.
Consider Online Learning
It is always good to consider virtual learning since the pandemic hasn’t officially ended yet. If there’s another outbreak in the future, your kids will have a more challenging time getting locked in on the campus. So you can talk about learning from home for now just until the pandemic finally ends.
Many good schools are offering online courses for less the price than normal. Online learning has a lot of benefits because it will allow your kids to work part-time or full-time to save for college. They can also travel either domestically or internationally while learning from wherever they find themselves.
Pick a Location
Do your kids want to stay close to you? Another consideration is to go to a local community college to finish general education requirements before attending the more expensive four-year university. This is a practical solution for those who want to attend a big university but cannot now because of financial considerations. Another year of taking general education units will give the family enough time to prepare for the more expensive education.
Know How the School Handled the Pandemic
It is also important to note the school’s approach to the pandemic. Did they take care of the students who were locked down on the campus? Did they make the necessary investments in the health, safety, and security of the student body? Are the staff fully vaccinated? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following guidelines: regular testing, offering vaccinations, protocols for the unvaccinated, and quarantine areas.
Evaluate Academic Offerings
Finally, although these are terrible and changing times, it’s important to evaluate the academic offerings of each school. This is still the most crucial part of the decision-making. If the university or college doesn’t offer the major that your kids want, then don’t force it on them. Cross it off the list. You can start reading about the programs being offered by the college or university, so you and your kids can have a feel if it is the right choice.
Picking a college or university is an exhilarating and exciting process. It’s sad to see that many students were robbed of that once-in-a-lifetime chance. They may never experience that again. But now that things are slowly getting back to a semblance of normalcy, it’s important to guide your kids every step of the way and see to it that they will have a normal college life as possible.