Advice to the Class of 2020: How to Be Safe and Sensible About Attending College in This Year of Pandemic
By Ron Schumacher, President – Terra State Community College
High school graduates in the Class of 2020 will remember their disrupted senior year as the spring of lost memories. They’ve had trips or sports cancelled. No plays or proms. And no graduation ceremonies.
COVID-19 kept thousands of Ohio graduates confined to their homes, unable to meet with their friends or enjoy the traditional celebrations of senior year. Sadly, the summer months may be just as bleak, with the loss of jobs, camps, parties and time at the pool.
As for this fall, what about college? For many with plans to attend a university, perhaps far from home, the pandemic has created an extra measure of uncertainty and concern. Even if their school of choice is planning to be open in September, questions abound. What will campus life be like? Will there be athletics? Will many classes be online or others I want not available at all? Will social distancing result in lonely residence halls and cafeterias?
Even more perplexing are questions raised by the pandemic’s economic impact. If a student’s family is facing financial difficulties due to the economic downturn, is the cost of college plans worth it?
Fortunately, for many in the Class of 2020, there is an excellent option available to address their concerns, providing them with safe and sensible opportunities for starting their college career. That choice is to defer enrollment at a university campus for a year (generally allowed at four-year institutions) and enroll at Terra State Community College.
This option allows a student to live on campus in our residence hall and take their first year of classes with Terra State. Our residence hall provides a safe and clean environment as each room is equipped with its own air handler. With our small class sizes, we are already set up to effectively keep social distance between students in the classrooms and labs. Many are also choosing to live at home and take their first year of classes online with us. Either way, the general education classes they will take are standard at all two- and four-year universities, and credits will transfer to a four-year school.
Community colleges have been providing well-respected online classes for years with highly qualified faculty and advisors who are able to meet the needs of all students. Not to mention, the courses are much more affordable.
Ohio is blessed because it has a large number of top-notch public and private four-year universities and two-year community colleges. And, unlike some other states, the relationship between community colleges and four-year institutions here is long-standing and strong.
Community colleges are a legitimate stepping-stone to a four-year institution. Students who have long planned to attend a four-year university can be confident that one initial year at a community college will in no way defer their ultimate college dreams. They can take courses, gain credits and work steadily toward goals before completing their education at their chosen school.
For a young person just out of high school, the COVID-19 pandemic and its many disruptions to our way of life can be particularly scary. The key to overcoming those anxieties is to stay healthy and safe while trying to resume your life and working, smartly, toward your future goals.
At Terra State, we believe that higher education can be an essential foundation for that future, even in a time of pandemic. Which is why the Class of 2020 – or anyone considering the start of a college education – should consider one year at a community college as a safe and sensible solution.