Well, 2020 certainly didn’t turn out as anyone expected. It has been a year full of ups and downs, especially for high school grads who last spring were making plans for graduation parties and ceremonies, only to have them suddenly canceled. School—and specifically, learning—has completely changed, at least for now.
Despite their best intentions, colleges and universities continue to struggle with coronavirus outbreaks, which means classes have gone from in-person to remote and sometimes a hybrid of both. On campus, students are expected to wear masks, practice social distancing, and refrain from gathering in large groups. In-person classes are smaller, and most classes are taught online.
It’s still possible to make new friends and create a social life, but options are limited so you’ll have to be creative. The college experience, at least for now, is not what anyone had in mind.
But there is good news!
Scientists are hard at work developing a vaccine, and the more we follow safety guidelines, the sooner that college—and life—can get back to normal. So be smart, do your part, and hopefully, by the time you’re ready to walk across the stage and receive your diploma, the road to college will be a lot smoother and brighter.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP
College, the military, career? Students are considering options they never thought of before
The COVID-19 crisis has caused a lot of young people to consider ALL their options, and there are more than you think. Transitioning from high school to the real world will be smoother if you start building the future that best suits you—your goals, your skills, your personality … your dreams.
4-year college or university
College is necessary if your dream is to become a lawyer, teacher, engineer or physician. Of the nearly 14 million students who enroll in four-year institutions each year, about 78% stuck with their original plan in 2020. The rest chose community colleges, decided on a gap year, or entered the job market.
Your high school diploma is all that’s needed to enlist in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. What better way to travel, serve your country and even earn an education if you so choose? The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program is also available at thousands of colleges across the country.
Community or technical college
About 6 million students enroll in two-year community college programs every year and there are plenty of opportunities in Louisiana to earn associate degrees and professional certificates. Consider this option if you’re interested in allied health, cybertechnology, automotive and aviation technology, welding, the culinary arts, the film industry and more.
For many reasons, some graduating seniors are planning to enter the job force after graduation. It can be a really smart move. There are plenty of skilled trades and professions you might consider that will allow you to start your career right away.
5 TIPS FOR CHOOSING A COLLEGE
The college you choose depends on many factors, including your personality, skills, life experiences and plans for the future. But here are the Top 5 things you should consider when narrowing your choice.
Be sure to discuss this with your parents. If they are not able to help you financially, you’ll need to research scholarship opportunities. Be advised that tuition and fees are lower at state schools than at private colleges and universities, but also remember that Louisiana students can take advantage of TOPS.
2. Campus life
Visit the websites of the schools you’re considering. Consider how you’ll spend your free time. Are there sporting events, social clubs, cultural events, a bustling night life, fraternities and sororities?
3. Area of study
You probably have an idea what your major will be, but if not, talk with a career counselor as soon as you enroll. Once you have a degree in mind, consider class sizes, faculty, internship opportunities, work-study programs, and job placement after graduation.
You’re probably ready to start a new chapter in your life, but before you commit to a college six hours away, make sure you’re ready for such a big step. Some students do better knowing that they are close to home. Others soar when they’re finally on their own!
Some schools require freshmen to live on campus. If they do, check out the cost, how you’ll get to your classes, if there’s an affordable meal plan, and what your roommate situation will be. If you choose to live in an apartment, get advice and recommendations from older students.