College Search in Quarantine


Anna Wenzel, Entertainment and Arts Section Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating in many ways, though perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects is the college search. For many high school juniors and rising seniors, the process of visiting colleges can be essential to picking the ‘perfect’ school. Getting a sense of the environment a student could be living in for four or more years is very important in making a final decision. Though this is not a part of the process for all students, it is still a priority for many when it comes to planning long weekends, spring breaks, or early/late summer plans in Junior and Senior year. This year things have changed quite a bit to accommodate the pandemic. Because in person visits are no longer available, colleges have gotten creative in helping students learn about them. Now students need to explore their websites, webinars, and other internet resources to find the best school. Despite challenges, there are still plenty of ways to continue the search in a safe way without ever stepping outside of your home. 


A big change this year is the waving of test requirements, as many SAT and ACT tests have been cancelled throughout the year since the start of the pandemic. 


“I’m still taking the tests because the schools in the UK that I’m applying to still require them, but I think overall it’s great,” Quinn Hirschland says. “Colleges should definitely focus more on something cumulative like GPA rather than a test you take less than three times.”


Helena Neufeld, a senior, also felt positively about test requirement changes. 


I think testing requirements in general are ridiculous. Tests like the SAT and ACT don’t really measure intelligence, nor do they accurately predict how successful you’ll be in college,” Helena Neufeld says. “I’m glad so many schools are waving testing requirements, and I hope they use this year as an opportunity to get rid of testing requirements altogether.”


The pandemic has even changed the way that some students are looking at college all together. Students may no longer feel comfortable going too far from home due to the disastrous effects of COVID-19 in big cities or highly populated areas. 


Before COVID I was pretty set on going out of state, but during COVID I started looking at CU Boulder more closely, because I wasn’t sure how the pandemic would affect my plans for other schools,” Neufeld says. “I ended up really liking CU and it went from being a last resort to my top choice.”


Hirschland’s choices also changed due to the pandemic. 


I’ve considered Alabama but their Corona cases are kind of crazy right now. I’m still going to apply but if COVID is still big next year I probably wouldn’t go,” Hirschland says. “I’ve always been interested in going to school in Europe and I got more interested in that because of COVID, especially since the US hasn’t been able to contain the virus as well as other countries.”


Unfortunately, the pandemic may still last well into next year, causing many students to reevaluate their choices in relation to college. Many schools are still costing full tuition despite an online education, and this could continue for the next two semesters. Seniors face the difficult choice of delaying their college start no matter where they end up deciding to go. 


“Personally, I would just go online. It’s sad to think that my college experience will be different than what I thought it would be, but I still want to start learning at college,” Neufeld says. 


In opposition, Hirschland says,Definitely delay my start [of college]. I’m not into paying college tuition for online learning.”


Naviance, which can be accessed through also has a lot of information about different colleges, and they even show admissions records from Fairview for different schools. If any readers are feeling lost in this messy process, the CCC is, as always, a great resource. This year college admissions counselors are doing their yearly CCC visits through virtual meets. These calls still open up a live Q&A, so it’s a great alternative to seeing them speak in person. Many colleges are holding frequent information sessions that you can tune into and ask questions in as well. Either is a good way to get to know a college when you cannot visit in person.


Despite that, Hirschland notes an interesting point: “Some [calls] were fine, but a lot of them were not great. Many of the people running the zoom calls and such were not very good at technology and/or public speaking so the visits weren’t great reflections of the schools.”


Beyond potentially faulty Zoom calls, college websites are usually filled with information waiting to be consumed about their programs, student life, tuition, student aid, and other things you may want to know. 


If all else fails, consider these handy tips:

Make an email account for colleges and join a bunch of email lists. Colleges send out a ton of useful emails with info about applying, financial aid, and other good stuff,” Hirschland says. 


Neufeld, too, had some advice: 

For students that are starting to look into colleges, just do as much research as you can and keep your options open,” Neufeld says. “It can be super stressful, but if you feel overwhelmed, just take a step back.”