With the shutdown of high schools and universities across the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduating seniors have been navigating uncharted waters. However, many seniors have not changed their plans after graduation, although many do accept that their college experience may have to start with distance learning.
Based on interviews with 16 seniors from Eastside Catholic, Skyline and Eastlake high schools, most of them still plan to go to the college of their original choice.
Only three out of the 16 students are considering a gap year or changing their college selection.
Randall Caler, an 18-year-old senior from Eastside Catholic, plans to attend an out-of-state college to study computer science and play in the band.
“While the Covid-19 outbreak has definitely been difficult during my senior year, I have not given up on my passions and I have kept my plans the same,” Caler said.
However Trevor Goo, 18, from Skyline, decided to switch his enrollment from University of Washington (UW) to Georgia Tech (GT).
“GT will be open for on-campus learning this year, while UW remains unsure, which really pushed me towards going to GT,” Goo said. “Not having remote learning was not the sole deciding factor of choosing GT, but definitely a reason why I chose it.”
These students’ feelings about their post-graduation plans range widely. Some are excited for their first year of college, while others have expressed anxiety about COVID-19 hindering their college experience. Some of them said the uncertainty of how their colleges will operate in the fall semester made it difficult to finalize their enrollment decisions, which added to their stress.
“It does not really ease the stress of trying to decide what we should do as students,” Simran Tandon, 18, from Eastlake, said. “I would love to go to college this fall, but I am not sure if that is a possibility anymore.”
The idea of online and remote learning does not appeal to any of these students. Some of the seniors dislike online learning because of their chosen majors. Certain fields, such as acting and music, feature classes that need to be taught and learned in-person. Distance learning just cannot simulate the live experience.
A few express concerns that online learning would make it harder to get good grades. They also fear the inability to forge strong relationships in college.
“I also feel like we will miss [out on] a chance to actually connect with our fellow students and teachers because it is harder to foster that bond over Zoom,” Tandon said.
The class of 2020 is graduating amidst one of the worst pandemics and recessions in recent memory. But these resilient seniors have pushed through this last quarter of their high school from home. They are embracing these uncertain times and marching onward to the next chapter of their lives.