Many high school and college students are asking a certain question thanks to a global pandemic. “Should I go to college during COVID-19?” Even many of the universities that started the year with in-classroom learning have switched to online. 

There are many families and employers who believe graduating from a good college or university is a crucial part of the American dream. But now we’re dealing with a global pandemic. Many parents have had their working hours reduced or lost their jobs. Even some parents who are still working aren’t sure how they will pay for their kids’ education.

Most parents and students are worried about how to safely live on a campus or a classroom this fall. Others are wondering if it is worth it to remain in college if all studying has shifted to online.

So how do you make decisions about going to college during COVID-19? Here are four choices for attending college during a pandemic, including the pros and cons of each choice.

  1. Go to a traditional four-year university.

In March 2020, many universities changed from traditional classroom settings to remote learning due to concerns about COVID-19. During the upcoming fall months, going to college during COVID-19 may include at least one more semester of remote learning, reopening campuses with rules for social distancing and wearing masks, or a combination of these options. 

Pro: Opportunities to continue your education. 

Con: You (and your parents) might lose some (or a lot of) money since certain school-related costs will not be refunded, even if the university’s educational process has changed.

  1. Attend a school that’s closer to home.

You can choose to go to a college during COVID-19 that’s closer to home than your original school choices. For example, some students and recent high school graduates decide to attend local community colleges

Pro: Save money and lower your risk of getting COVID-19.

Con: Not experiencing the traditional college experience of going to a school in another city or state.

  1. Take a gap year.

Whats a gap year? A gap year is when a recent high school graduate takes a break by spending a semester or a full academic year away from a typical college or university setting. 

The “gap” taken between high school and college is often to help students gain personal awareness and/or develop practical and professional skills.

Pro: A gap year is a great opportunity, especially for young entrepreneurs. Instead of directly going to college during COVID-19, you can use your gap year to focus on your business. This could help you decide if you want to continue growing that business for the next few years or try a different career path.

Con: Not all colleges and universities accept students taking a gap year. Some of the schools accepting a gap year have rules and guidelines on how you spend that time away from campus. 

  1. Don’t go to a traditional university.

Some high school and college students wondered about a college degree’s value long before COVID-19 became a major concern. The thought of going to college during COVID-19 has raised more questions about the worth of a college education for more students.

College isn’t for everybody.

Still, if you’re considering not attending college, have an ongoing discussion about this with adults you trust such as a parent, teacher, or mentor. This will help you get a better idea of your options and make the best decision for you.

Pro: You have some good choices if you decide to not go to college. You could become a more focused, full-time entrepreneur and grow your current business. Consider attending a trade school that’s related to your industry. You could also take local or online-based classes that will help you better understand and run a successful business.

Con: Some people may not understand or support your decision to not go to a traditional college or university. That’s why it’s important to talk to people you trust who will support your during and after your decision process.

Final Thoughts on Going to College During COVID-19

If you feel like you have more questions than answers about your college plans, you’re not alone. There’s not one answer that’s right for everyone who is asking “Should I attend college during COVID-19?”

Be sure to consider your options whether you’re still in high school, a recent high school graduate, or already in college. You could:

  • attend a traditional four-year university in another city or state (in-person or via online courses) 
  • attend a community college or a local/regional university
  • take a gap year
  • not attend a college or university

The most important thing to remember is to talk to people you trust to help you choose the best path for you, your business, and your general situation.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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