photo courtesy of istockphoto.com
By Alexandria Zine
Along with the healthcare system, the education system must confront the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many facets of daily life are rolling over to simplicity, with one’s home space transforming into a work environment. What is the status quo from this point forward? Well, these numerous changes consist of a developing reliance on technology, new sources and procurements of aid (financially and psychologically), and a re-evaluation of admission requirements for students’ ideal selection.
The postsecondary education system is fretting about prospective student enrollment, especially with the lags in accessing a variety of vital resources (the office of admissions, etc.). Even with a partial reopening of the economy or continuous remote learning, students with vulnerabilities (financially and/or physically) have to encounter the inescapable reverberations of this crisis. Many universities are encouraging students to utilize the virtual experience and to not allow on-campus tour cancellations to dissuade them from inquiring about any particulars, according to the New York Times article “How to Make College Decisions When Campuses Are Closed.” National College Decision Day is no longer set on the typical May 1st date, as well over 300 universities are providing an extension for adequate reflection, according to the Politico article “‘We’re on the Edge of the Precipice’: How the Pandemic Could Shatter College Dreams.” Just as a global recuperation needs to occur in phases, the formation of a traditional learning plan must adjust to a phase by phase return.
With the government’s financial assistance through the stimulus check, there are other forms of relief being implemented. The International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), Standardized Academic Testing (SAT), and American College Testing (ACT) have been postponed to a later date; although, these dates are bound to change. According to the U.S. News article “What to Know about Coronavirus-Related IB Changes,” participants in the IB curriculum are still eligible to receive their diploma, but they are merely subjected to an alternate type of assessment using in-class assignments (such as the Internal Assessment reports for each subject and the Extended Essay). Likewise, the College Board said on their website that they cannot administer the SAT and ACT tests until the start of August, on the basis that this country’s state of health progresses. A unanimous decision among many universities has led to an omission of the usual SAT and ACT testing, the highest number to be recorded, according to a Washington Post article “Dozens of Colleges and Universities Are Dropping SAT/ACT Requirements for Fall 2021 Applicants, and Some for Longer.” That same article reports that “more than 1,100 four-year colleges and universities that do not use the SAT or ACT to admit large numbers of bachelor-degree applicants.”
If proper management of the disease fails to persist or is not yet possible, then “the College Board will provide a digital SAT for home use, like how we’re delivering digital exams to 3 million AP students this spring.” An article from the U.S. News on the upcoming IB exams reflects this as to “…avoid putting additional stress on students by requiring them to adapt to a new system amid the coronavirus pandemic. So out of compassion, and fairness to students and instructors alike, the IB opted to cancel all May exams.”
Aside from innumerable changes to assessing the intellect of students, most colleges have suffered greater losses from this fatal outbreak. The Boston Globe has reported that UMass universities had to refund students for on-campus expenses, leading to a $100 million loss. Another potential loss for all institutions includes price adjustments for the mandatory transition to online classes and financial aid from this point forward. Some universities may have the financial fortitude to rebound, while others may be less fortunate.
Assistance, regarding finances, may have to be drawn from the colleges’ other resources. If students receive the guidance they need to complete the request for financial assistance, then schools must comply with this aid, despite their financial turmoil. According to a Boston Globe article “Already, Universities Are Planning for a Fall without Students on Campus — Just in Case,” numerous schools– such as Harvard and UMass– may have to boost the financial packages provided to students. An increase in these packages means that universities have to minimize their previous allocations of the reservoir and their endowments. Specifically, the packages for Pell Grant students tend to be larger than other packages, due to the greater necessity for this assistance. According to the Politico article “‘We’re on the Edge of the Precipice’: How the Pandemic Could Shatter College Dreams,” the eligibility for these students is up to $6,345. With a College Board report in that same article of 6.8 million students (with minimal income) receiving a Pell Grant during the 2018-19 academic year, there are indications that the quantity of recipients may rise due to this economic recession.
The repercussion to these notable, internal shifts in a postsecondary education, is that many students are considering every option for the summer and fall semesters. They appear to be vying for friendly schools, in terms of cost and distance (such as community colleges). A gap year is another possibility for students as the economic circumscriptions differ for each family. Despite universities intercalating as much support and suggestions as possible, the scope on the total expenses of this pursuit cannot be overlooked. The scope of all students is changing rapidly as this health crisis continues to impact the country and provoke multiple perceptions of the ideal scenario.