Students look at alternate options while waiting on decisions about fall semester

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — High School Seniors missed a lot of important moments when schools suddenly closed. And now, they’re worried about missing out on another important part of their lives; that first year college experience.

Schools such as Otterbein University will open campus for the fall but its still up in the air as to what will happen with other universities.

For thousands of Central Ohio high school seniors this unknown is causing a lot of confusion and anxiety. Many of them are now asking themselves some tough questions. Should they continue to go on as planned in the fall no matter what? Will studying online be worth it without that first year experience? Do they want to take a gap year and wait until this pandemic has gone away?

“He’s looking forward to being in campus, living in the dorm, having that experience,” explained Abby Suarez who is a mom of a graduating senior.

It’s possible that campus life will look a lot different and students will have a different first year experience.

“Kids are trying to find ways to make next fall as normal as possible,” stated Tom Woodford, a college counselor at Hilliard Darby High School.

Woodford says that a lot of his students have come to him with concerns and ultimately have decided to change their paths.

“That raised a little anxiety for students because they thought they were finished with this process.”

Julie WIllowby says her son decided to take a semester off and start in the Spring at Columbus State. She said that decision was easy to make for them.

“Now he’s doing online school and he does not do well,” stated Willowby, “I am all for him taking time off.”

But other students like Eli Suarez who will be studying lighting design, want to get started on their degrees immediately.

“I’m still currently planning on starting the fall semester no matter what happens,” noted Suarez.

Woodford who works with students and colleges daily says he agrees with Suarez’s decision and has some advice for other teens.

“Even though what the fall may look may look like something different then what they hoped I would advise them to continue to go to school. Go even if you may go somewhere else,” explained Woodford. “What is the best choice for you that will impact your family financially?”

Woodford says that since this Pandemic, a lot of students are now having opportunities they may have not had before. Some students are even receiving scholarships closer to home, making their college choices harder to make. It’s not just freshman in high school that have been dramatically impacted by this. Seniors in college have been also faced with some tough decisions.

I had this plan of finishing out my college career, graduating and moving on in the world,” explained Danny Logan, a senior in college.

He looked at the job market and decided he needed to reevaluate his original plan. Instead of job hunting in this unstable economy right now, he decided to go ahead and get his masters. 

 “It was not on my list,” noted Logan. “I was thinking maybe a couple years down the line I would return to get an MBA.”

And for professors like Nyama McCarthy-Brown, she knows any decision the University makes will be in everyone’s best interest but for some majors, like dance, it won’t be easy.

“I think when you spend your day on a screen the last thing you want to do is go back into the screen for your physical and human contact,” noted McCarthy Brown.

Woodford wants to remind all students that no matter when or where you decide to go, it will all work out.

“Students will be taken care of. It might just look very very different.”

Woodford also explained that if a student decided to take a gap year and in turn take some online classes while they wait, they will possibly be looked at as a transfer student. This will also eliminate all first-year scholarships they may have been eligible for that carry over into all four years.

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