Coronavirus pandemic causes huge challenges for teens choosing colleges, planning campus tours

By Sarah Cody,

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — High school seniors across the state are facing a new kind of challenge in the age of pandemic as they get ready to go to college: how to tour a campus while adhering to social-distancing precautions.

“I applied to 10 schools,” says Aiden Annino, a senior at Platt High School in Meriden who recently narrowed his choices down to three colleges in Rhode Island but wasn’t able to go back to those campuses due to the pandemic.

“It was definitely tough not being able to visit those schools…was a huge effect, but they were offering a lot of online activities that helped me narrow down my options,” Annino said.

Turning to tech has enabled teens to somewhat get a feel for their potential “fit” at particular schools.

Quinnipiac University was supposed to host prospective students in late March. “Instead of having them on campus, we hosted them virtually,” explained Vice President for Enrollment Management, noting the university held video chats and online panels. “We had about 9,000 visitors between Thursday and Sunday when those events went live.”

Administrators, faculty, and current students were available to answer questions about everything from classes to dorms to activities.

But, Sykes understands, these are unprecedented times. “I can’t imagine the frustration that students are going through,” he says.

“They’re also dealing with the fact they had an abrupt end to their senior year,” says Marc Lehman, founder of U Are Heard, who holds online counseling for college-aged kids. He’s hearing a lot about this issue.

“It’s a big deal, one that deals with finances, emotions,” he says, adding that this unusual time could lead to gap years or transfers. “It may, it may.”

Annino decided to attend Johnson & Wales University. He’s confident it’s the right decision and, certainly, time will tell: “I am taking this one step at a time. I think that’s all we can do right now.”

Quinnipiac University is continuing to provide video chats and online panels. Click here to see the Admitted Student Experience. And, like many schools, it has extended the freshman enrollment deadline to June 1st.