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"This is a forgiving time" for SUNY college admissions

Director of Admissions at SUNY Oneonta weighs in
Posted at 1:18 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 05:09:48-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Across the SUNY system, students have switched to online learning methods. Many college students are still taking classes and studying from home.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced changes for current students. The pandemic is also having a major impact on future and incoming classes.

"This is challenging for all of us," said Karen Brown, Executive Director of Admissions at SUNY Oneonta. "We're all trying to build the airplane as we're flying it."

Brown spoke with 7 Eyewitness News Morning Anchor Ed Drantch, in an exclusive Instagram Live interview.

At SUNY Oneonta, perspective student tours are being done online. There are virtual events being held for students to gauge whether the culture and community is the right fit, Brown said.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Regents announced June Regents exams would be canceled. The board also released new guidelines for graduation.

Regents exam scores often serve as an indicator for admissions counselors.

"This is a forgiving time," Brown said. She's read the guidance and says students will be given credit for the exams they're not taking.

Brown says this will even impact eighth graders who are taking Regents exams. "We're going to see this for awhile, but we're going to have to be aware and sensitive to it," Brown said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is looking ahead to days after quarantine and the pandemic subsides. He explained getting back to "life as normal" will not be done all at once and isn't as easy as 'the flip of a switch.'

Brown says on-campus summer orientation at Oneonta has been moved to August.

Administrators are working on plans "should our campus start date be delayed, should we have online classes in the fall," Brown said.

"Our hope-- as is the hope of all colleges, I believe that are residential in nature-- we want our students back on campus this fall, but that's not necessarily in our control at this point," Brown said.

Standardized testing is also becoming a challenge for admissions offices. Brown says some campuses have students who take the SATs in the spring of their senior year.

For junior who would have taken the SATs in the spring, Brown says she is waiting for The College Board for some answers. She says there is an indication SAT testing dates are going to be added in the fall, "possibly some school dates so they can do testing in school during the day," Brown said.

In the meantime, "SUNY has given us guidance for this year, that we can look [at] students who don't have a test score and we can admit them, given special circumstance." Some campuses will be going in that direction, according to Brown.

"The goal is to get these students into higher education if they want to be admitted, so that's what we're trying to do," Brown said, though she added it's a campus based decision.

At Oneonta, Reunion Weekend has been cancelled. Other events have been canceled on campuses across the state.

"There's a tremendous financial impact to this that we're studying -- SUNY is studying," Brown said. "It's going to take a long time to recover from this, I believe."

Oneonta, Brown says, is in a good financial position. However, "the hit to campuses with large international populations is going to be challenging," she said.

As for the admissions process, "I'm telling everyone to take a breath. we're all in this together," Brown said. "Families are looking to us with questions we may not be able to answer yet. I assure them -- and I know my colleagues across the system are assuring them of the same -- that once we get those answers were going to share them with them. "