COVID-19

How COVID-19 could disrupt college admissions

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Apr 15, 2020
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University lecture halls may be empty, but the college admissions processes marches on. Omar Marques/Getty Images
COVID-19

How COVID-19 could disrupt college admissions

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Apr 15, 2020
University lecture halls may be empty, but the college admissions processes marches on. Omar Marques/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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This time of year, high school seniors are deciding where (or if) they’re going to go to school next year. But because of COVID-19, making that choice has become a lot more complicated. 

“For many of them, their financial pictures have changed dramatically from when they originally applied back in the fall or the early winter,” Elizabeth Heaton, a vice president of college consulting for Bright Horizons’ College Coach, told “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal. “For those who are applying for financial aid, they filed those papers back in the fall based on income and their financial picture back in 2018, so you can only imagine how much things have now changed for them.” 

Heaton said many schools have extended decision deadlines and are working with students whose circumstances have changed, but it may not be enough time to clear up the uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

“I think it’s going to cause some families to maybe do something we advise against, which is double or triple depositing, and that means accepting offers for multiple schools,” Heaton said. “I think it’s injected a lot of uncertainty for both colleges and the families.”

Heaton said coronavirus could have a huge impact on the final decisions students ultimately make — such as more of them choosing public schools closer to home over expensive private schools near the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis.

“We’re already seeing that,” she said. 

With campuses shut down, some mainstays of the college admissions process that have traditionally benefited more affluent students, like campus visits, could go out of vogue for a while.

“That might, might, benefit those kids who couldn’t afford to go to campus anyway, but they still need to understand that they may have to reach out, and if you haven’t been raised to think that that’s something you can do, or if you and your family is new to the college process, you may not even realize that that’s an option available to you,” Heaton said.

Long term, Heaton said what’s happening now could shape the way students and their families make decisions about higher education in the future, like putting more emphasis on schools’ online education offerings and less on campus amenities like fancy gyms and climbing walls.

“It’s hard to imagine how they could come out of this and not look at things differently,” she said.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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