COVID-19 changing the college landscape for some high school seniors

College students can get more aid during the COVID-19 crisis
Posted at 11:38 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 12:20:29-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — From senior parades, to zoom schooling, the weeks leading up to high school graduation look a lot different for the Class of 2020. Now college may look different too.

COVID-19 is leading to some seniors changing their college plans. Andrew Belasco is the CEO of College Transitions, a college admissions consulting firm that works with many families in the Buffalo area.

"A significant percentage of our students and families, about 1 in 4 are re-thinking their college plans," he said.

He said some families are wary about sending children far from home, traveling by plane, or spending $50,000 or more during tough financial times. He said one option is deferring for a year, even if its not initially an option on your acceptance form.

"I think by and large the overwhelming majority of schools will accommodate a deferral, especially this year," he said. "Colleges are experiencing a lot of problems of their own and they very much want to keep the students that originally committed to them."

He warns against taking a traditional gap year since many internships or abroad programs may be canceled. He said one option is community college.

Genesee Community College is advocating for students to consider it as an ideal option. Shelitha Williams, the Vice President of Student and Enrollment Services and Chief Diversity Officer for the college, said the schools affordability, small class size, and rural location are all positives, especially now.

"It's the idea of visiting and seeing what the community college has to offer when perhaps it may not have been a consideration," Williams said.

Belasco said even if you can't visit a college, admissions officers can connect you with a current student to provide insight. There are also virtual tours.

Some current college students have had to revise their plans as well.

"We do have students who attend GCC with a plan to transfer to a four year institution, and based on the uncertainty they decided they'll remain at GCC," Williams said.