Seniors face hardships surrounding college decisions due to cancelled visits

YJ Si, News Editor

Like many seniors, Junu Song (12) planned to visit colleges after spring break. After all, he said, that’s right after admission results, so he knows which ones to go to.

But with the stay-at-home orders in place, getting a feel for not just the campus itself, but things like the weather, the people, and the general vibe of the city, proves to be impossible. 

Because of this, Song, along with many seniors, weren’t able to get a general feel for the colleges he was accepted to on the east coast. His final choices boiled down to USC and UCLA simply because he didn’t know what the East Coast schools’ environments were like. He eventually chose to attend USC.

“When you’re choosing a college, people say to go with your gut, but you can’t get a gut reaction when you’re just stuck in the house and clicking through Google Street View,” Song said. “You need to be there, you need to see the people, and the place.”

Noah Poulin (12) said he feels the same way. While having already visited his two top choices, USC and the University of Michigan, he said that not having the chance to visit again is a missed opportunity to meet future classmates and see who he could be around on a daily basis.

“In the in-person visits, you can look around and see all the other people who got accepted,” Poulin said. “You could actually meet and get to know the people who might be sitting next to you next year, and see if those are the people you’ll want to surround yourself with for years.”

Without getting to know the general vibe of the school itself, he said, it’s hard to make an actual decision. Poulin is currently set to attend the University of Michigan, but as of Tuesday he said he is still uncertain.

“After all this has happened, it’s made me realize how important my family is to me,” he said. “It definitely draws me toward USC, which is right up the freeway, rather than flying across the country.”

Something that USC is doing, along with a multitude of other colleges, is hosting online Zoom-like meetings for their incoming freshmen to see how everything in the school functions, from current student panels answering various questions to financial aid options. Rather than an in-person tour, students can ask questions to the speakers through the messaging system.

“When you’re choosing a college, people say to go with your gut, but you can’t get a gut reaction when you’re just stuck in the house and clicking through Google Street View. You need to be there, you need to see the people, and the place.”

-Junu Song (12)

“I thought that was actually pretty helpful,” Song said. “The only main issue was there were a lot of people asking questions, so mine got unanswered for a long time.”

Similarly, Paige Nguyen (12) attended UCSD’s annual Triton Day—online. While Triton Day is traditionally physical, with informational booths, mock lectures, and open houses, it was moved online as an informational meeting. 

In contrast to Song, Nguyen said that she felt more comfortable asking questions, especially in a time filled with doubt, because the meeting was online rather than physical.

“If you sat among a panel of students and they were all asking a ton of questions, you might not feel comfortable raising your hand and asking out loud,” she said. “But through the computer, it’s really easy to just type out a question [and have it answered].”

While these online meetings could not replace the genuineness of the physical visit, Poulin said, he understands that currently, there are much larger concerns.

“We have bigger fish to fry [in the world right now],” he said. “It’s disappointing that I can’t make a proper choice, but I definitely understand that going online is the best for our current situation.”