What will college look like in the fall, in light of the coronavirus pandemic? Many of you might be wondering about this as you plan for your Freshman year. The truth is, no one knows just yet. But due to public speculation (often by the colleges themselves, as they publicly discuss various options) we have some idea of the possibilities. It is also possible that different colleges will take different approaches, so your situation might come down to which school you’ve decided to attend.
Online learning. We’re almost certain to see an increase in the number of online classes offered. Some schools, such as the California State University schools, have already announced that Fall semester will be conducted completely online. Others might have options for both online and on-campus classes, moving large classes online and keeping the smaller classes (but in larger classrooms, so that social distancing is possible).
Delayed starts. As the coronavirus pandemic progresses, policy makers will watch “the curve” closely. If models suggest that classes should begin later, perhaps in October or even as late as January, then many colleges are likely to elect that option.
Block scheduling. Some colleges, like Colorado College, have been using this model for years. Students take just one class at a time, for just a few weeks. This model allows for a “deep dive” into learning a single topic at once. Since students would mingle with a smaller number of people at any given time, block scheduling could work to keep the spread of coronavirus under control.
Only freshmen on campus. With stats showing that a strong campus presence during the freshman year leads to a successful college career, many schools might opt to bring only the freshman class to campus. The rest would stick with online learning.
Other options. Even for campuses that open back up, changes will be likely. Fewer students might be packed into residence halls (bringing up the possibility of private rooms). Crowded lecture halls will be a thing of the past. Contact tracing might be performed on campus.
The best way to predict campus life in the Fall is to stay in touch with your chosen school. Follow them on social media and check their website often for updates. We do anticipate that things will be different than we originally envisioned, but in some ways campus life might even be better!