Should parents allow their teens to return to campus? Are there any pro's (other than maximum safety) to choosing online for the fall? What questions should parents and teens ask colleges about the steps they are taking for campus return? Thanks to the Chronicle of Higher Education and many college administrations for insider information that I can bring this information to parents.
Parents and teens have to decide on the college and make that deposit now while many colleges say they are waiting until August 1 to decide what fall will look like--actually, many will announce now but can change at any time.
Campus Return Family Checklist
What should you be looking for? What should you be asking?
See below for how to judge 'safety' and educational experience at your college choices. Remember that this situation probably won't extend for more than one year and if you and your student love the school, online can provide an excellent experience. Here are important questions but ultimately, what degree of risk are you comfortable with for your student?
What are the dorm room arrangements?
Will masks and distancing be required?
Will most faculty teach an in-person, on campus course virtually?
Will the classes be offered in person and online?
What will the online option look like? (Zoom screen presence, robot cameras? etc)
What is the new tech investment?
Is my teen's major or program being phased out or canceled?
How has career planning and placement being integrated into the major program?
Is the college planning any options for quicker graduation?
Try to determine if the college is re-opening college to avoid bankruptsy or does it have funding to put safety measures in place?
Is the college saying 'return to campus' now to get the deposits and payments but will switch to online in fall?
What is the policy for sick students? (quarantine dorm, only prohitition from attending class when sick? dorm confinement?)
What is the policy for exposed students (quarantine?, etc)
How many programs and faculty are being cut?
Which sports are being cut? (only a small percentage of sports make money so they will be early cuts)
What does their "high flex" plan look like?
What are their "toggle" plans (open/closed with outbreak/open/ closed?
Tuition bargaining---can the college now give AP credit, etc
Are more skills/certifications being added to make the degree translate directly into employment (currently rarely the case--but a 10 year change slow happening that will happen fast---as traditional is a great education but not immediately leading to employment as it once did)?
What type of College
A commuter campus will not have the high-contact residential issues of the residential campus. Commuter students are more likely to have contact issues from outside jobs, families, etc but those are largely mitigated by wearing masks and distancing. Residential colleges able to offer single rooms with own bathrooms are what is recommended and make a huge difference. However, Students just by going to class are 2 steps away from every other student at the school. Some colleges are taking extensive steps to change hall passing flow, with one-way halls and staircases, distancing in class, online for high contact basic courses that can be taught just as well online, etc. Some turning triple dorm rooms into doubles, doubles into singles. Others are doing nothing.
The student dream---the dorm room