Concerns over coronavirus impact the fall semester for college freshmen  

Christine K., Managing Editor

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many high school seniors are living in a state of uncertainty regarding their plans for the fall. While many seniors have committed to college, colleges are still finalizing their plans for the fall semester, which involve many possibilities ranging from a completely online semester to modified versions of an in-person semester.  


“Notre Dame is starting the semester on August 10 so they can end by Thanksgiving with no breaks in between,” said senior Joseph D.  


The shortened semester at Notre Dame is a plan to protect students and faculty in the case of a second wave of COVID-19 and gives students the opportunity to have as normal of a college experience as possible. However, many other schools have not yet released final decisions on what the fall semester is going to look like.  


“[Princeton University] has yet to announce any of its plans for the fall semester, but many options are being considered such as online learning, distanced in-person learning, and having only seniors and freshmen on campus,” said senior Ethan S.  


Because of the uncertainty of the fall semester, some students may consider taking a gap year to travel, work, or learn a new subject without having to worry about being on campus in the fall or not.  


“Personally, I wouldn’t take a gap year because I think it would be difficult to readjust to a school environment and it would be harder to make friends going into sophomore year, but I know some people who have gone on gap year travel programs and loved it,” said senior Abigail K.  


Other reasons for not taking a gap year include not wanting to be a year behind in the future and because many programs will most likely be negatively impacted by the pandemic.  


“I never really thought about taking a gap year because any other opportunities to do service or travel are probably cancelled too so taking a year off wouldn’t be at all productive,” said Ethan S.  


Still, many seniors are planning on going back to campus at some point in the fall.  


“I’m excited to be in college and live oncampus and I will be very disappointed if it is postponed. I don’t have a ton of concerns regarding COVID-19 because we are young and less at risk for developing a more serious case, and my college is fairly isolated so there is less of a risk of it spreading to other areas,” said Abigail K.  


However, the college experience will be tremendously different this year as colleges must prioritize the safety of their students and faculty while on campus. This may involve comprehensive testing for COVID-19, social distancingmask requirements, enhanced cleaning of public areas and the cancellations of traditions.  


“I definitely was looking forward to game days and the traditions that Wisconsin has, like Jump Around, which probably won’t happen. Additionally, I wanted to rush a sorority in the fall which will be difficult or impossible if school is online,” said senior Jordana R.  


Colleges are also motivated to stay open due to financial reasons. In an article published by the president of Brown University, she states that closing campuses in the fall could mean a loss of half of a college’s revenue, ultimately forcing many colleges to close permanently. 


“I think that any college will try its best to maintain the students’ health and wellness if classes are on campus so I’m not very worried about the potential safety risks. If anything, I think colleges are more concerned now about the economic fallout that is bound to happen to an extent due to the pandemic,” said Ethan S. 🔳