The COVID-19 pandemic increases the pressures of college decision day

The class of 2021 faces unique problems in choosing their future


Photo M. Vasquez

A wheel of college banners in Robinson’s guidance counselor office.

Meena Vasquez, A&E Editor

Editor’s note: This story was written for FSPA’s Newspaper Team competition. The FSPA State Convention was held virtually from April 22-23.

College decisions are a feat seniors each year have to face, where students decide which university—if any—they’ll attend for the next four years. In the fourth quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, when the pandemic entirely shut down Robinson, the class of 2021 didn’t think the pandemic would impact their college decisions—they were wrong. 

SAT testing centers were shut down, campuses nationally were unavailable to visitors and the pandemic increased the financial stress that already comes hand-in-hand for senior year.

Tuition particularly is an issue that has come into play. When applying for financial aid for the 2021-2022 school year, colleges base the money they grant off of the 2019 tax year, before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted jobs. Considering that, according to Forbes, nearly 50 million Americans filed for unemployment in the 16 weeks between March 26 and July 9, families are not in the same financial situation as they once were.

“My family has mixed feelings. It’s getting awfully close to May 1, and I still haven’t decided whether to attend UF or a private college out of state. The decision is nuanced, and my family hasn’t yet come to a consensus,” Angelina Krinos (‘21) said.

Money isn’t the only stressor for picking a college in a world with COVID-19. In 2020, when schools first shut down their campuses, some schools advertised that it was only for spring break, but it lasted until the end of the semester. 

When campuses did open, some were still partially online. Robinson students and their families are having to calculate how the COVID-19 situation of their campus will impact their choice, something students in the past didn’t have to do.

“I’m definitely leaning more towards in-state because I want to be closer to my family if anything happens. Out of state colleges are not going to be the same as it was because some colleges are still shifting from online to in person. I still wanted to be close to home and get the college experience,” Ella Mendelowtiz (‘21) said.

The stress lies not only on students but the parents, who have to watch their children leave the nest in the middle of a pandemic. Parental concern grows over how colleges are supposed to. provide education and experience, while also creating rules and regulations that ensure COVID-19 safety for all students.

“My mom is proud of my college decision and my dad is worried about COVID. But now that’s there’s a vaccine and I take the right steps to protect myself and to protect others it’ll make my dad more comfortable,” Emma Fernandez (‘21) said.

National Decision Day for 2020 remains May 1, when most colleges require students to have committed to an institution.