Covid-19 continues to impact college decisions


Sophia Maxim

Pandemic heightens concerns with college decisions as uncertainty continues to mount.

Carolyn Harty

After almost two years of the pandemic, the U.S. seems to be back to where it started. COVID-19 cases across the country have continued to rise at an alarming rate due to the Omicron variant, causing closures across the country.

Coming out of the holiday season, universities across the country started shutting down. Ivy League schools such as Cornell and Princeton switched to online learning, with schools like Michigan State and Duke following in their footsteps.

Senior Grace Porges, who is applying to schools across the country such as San Jose State, Parsons School of Design, Montana University and more, expresses worries about the impacts COVID-19 could have on her freshman year of college.

“Applying to schools out west can be risky because a lot of schools out west and up north close a lot earlier than schools in the south,” Porges said. “It’s a little worrisome that I could get sent home out of nowhere when cases begin to rise again.”

Living in Atlanta for her whole life, Porges wants to leave her hometown behind and find somewhere new to spend the next four years of her life. However, in uncertain times, staying optimistic can be challenging.

“It is hard knowing that I may have to fly home a lot which can be really expensive, especially if my school cannot make up its mind whether they want to do it online or not,” Porges said.

Schools like the University of Michigan and University of Georgia (UGA) have made the decision to stay open during this time. Jane Logan, a freshman at UGA, had mixed emotions about heading back to campus.

“I feel great about going back to school, but also nervous to start my classes,” Logan said.

Although precautions have been taken to stop the spread of Covid, Logan believes that her university could improve some of their safety measures.

“UGA encourages people to wear masks and really encourages people to get vaccinated,” Logan said. “However you are not required to wear a mask in any of the facilities, so I think overall they could handle it better.”

700 miles north of Athens in Ann Arbor, MI, the University of Michigan continues to stay open with different policies than UGA. Even with mask mandates in all buildings and transportation systems, freshman Helena Lara believes Michigan could do a better job managing the pandemic.

“[Michigan] hasn’t really done a good job of handling the pandemic,” Lara said. “They made us take tests but we technically didn’t have to report the results unless we were positive. I feel like our president doesn’t really care about the health of our students and the professors say that the university is pretty adamant to stay in person.”

Last year during the first wave of Covid, schools like New York University (NYU) were pressured through social media because of the way they were treating and feeding their quarantined students.

“Some New York schools didn’t handle the pandemic very well during the first wave, so that is always something to keep in mind,” Porges said.

How universities are handling the pandemic has received attention from younger students beginning their college search. Junior Zach Spangler has started to look at Georgia Institute of Technology, UGA and Davidson College.

“Davidson was doing a really good job keeping their campus safe when I went to visit,” Spangler said. “They had a mask mandate and were staying safe, but I assume it’s a lot easier doing that with a smaller school.”

Spangler had a different experience when visiting UGA.

“Schools like UGA, I go there and not everyone is wearing a mask which isn’t a great look for the school when it’s the peak of a pandemic,” Spangler said.

How universities handle student health and safety is an important factor when deciding where Spangler is looking at colleges.

“If it came down to two schools that I really liked, I would definitely choose the safer option,” Spangler said. “ I would pick the one that has mandates or encourages their kids to get vaccines.”

As Covid continues to sweep across the country, vaccines and masks all continue to become one of the main topics of conversation around the world. Many students look for schools that will fit their needs and prioritize safety.

“I would advise students to see how the admin has handled cases in the past and make a decision that way,” Lara said. “I feel like if a school doesn’t care about their students, you can really see that through the pandemic.”