COVID-19’s Impact on College Decisions for 2021’s

Two seniors at O’Dowd, Lacey Harris and Morgan Jenkins discuss how their college process has differed from pre-quarantine to now.


A mask and lysol sits along with many college flyers, one of the only ways students are able to get their college information in the face of the pandemic.

Kennedy Johnson, Copy Editor

Applying to college is right around the corner for our fellow seniors, but this year is drastically different. With the SAT and ACT no longer required for many college applications, to completing college questionnaires online, going on virtual visits, and more, deciding what school one wants to attend is becoming more and more difficult. Someone’s dream school during pre-quarantine might be off the list now. Some may have realized they want to be closer to family and some may want to be away from family more than ever. Factors such as not visiting the school, the possibility of taking online college courses, and more, may have affected an interest in specific colleges.

This realization has overcome many seniors, especially with the excessive time they have on their hands.

Lacey Harris, ‘21 states, “I think the most difficult part is everything is confusing and new to everyone. We do not really know what the future holds for us.” Lacey was not as impacted by her college decisions and ultimately has the same plans as before, but uncertainty plays a factor in her top choices.“Most of the colleges I was interested in were pretty far away, at least for my top choices. I do have some colleges that interested me closer to home, but mainly I am looking far away. The colleges I was interested in are Clark, Spelman, Grambling, Xavier, and Texas A&M.”

She was then asked if and how quarantine has affected her college choices. “Quarantine really hasn’t affected my college interests much. I still am interested in the colleges listed before, and would still like to get out of the Bay Area. I know there will be some difficulties with everything going on, but I hope to be able to get a new start and a new environment starting my freshman year in college.” One difficulty in her college process has been an unpredictable future. “With quarantine, it’s confusing on what will be the next move. I think that might be the most challenging thing for me because, with everything going on to virtual classes, I possibly might start my freshman year online and won’t be able to move to campus or to a location of my choice. I think the other difficult thing for me is not being able to visit other schools.”

Morgan Jenkins, another fellow senior, has been considering a majority of UC schools, more Southern California colleges. She still wants to experience leaving home and feeling independent. Since the pandemic, she now doesn’t feel the need or desire to go far from home.

“Before quarantine, I was considering majority UC schools, with a focus on southern California colleges. I wanted to stay in California because I love the weather and vibe here, but I still wanted the experience of leaving home and feeling independent, so SoCal seemed like the best match. I was considering a few East Coast schools too, and I was hoping to be able to visit them, just to see if I liked it out there too.”

She then described how COVID-19 influenced her previous decisions.“Now that we have been experiencing this pandemic for a while, I no longer feel as inclined to leave home to go so far. I certainly don’t want to go to the East coast anymore and I have opened up to considering more colleges in NorCal so that I won’t be too far to come home in case anything happens.”

A big indicator of choosing a school to Morgan is the feel of the campus, which she won’t be able to truly experience.“I have really struggled with not being able to visit schools because I feel as though I am not able to make a well-informed decision. The feel of a campus and its students can be vastly different than how it represents itself online, so it is hard to feel like I am drawn to any one school because they all look great virtually. This will likely make it hard for me to pick a school in the long run.”

Morgan Jenkins ‘21 adds, “Through my college process, I learned that I really do not want to travel far from my family and I have taken their presence for granted in the past. I also learned that it is important to look at how a school has handled the COVID crisis because that is indicative of how they value their students.”

Lacey and Morgan both considered going away for college and agreed about the challenge of not visiting the school’s campuses. Lacey is still considering the same schools, although she mentioned the difficulty of making a decision based on uncertainty. Morgan considered her same schools as well, but shifted to looking at colleges bothin Northern and Southern California. East Coast schools are now off her radar completely.

The college decision is going to play a huge role in the class of 2021’s lives. This year has changed many things, such as where people may want to get a college degree and where they hope to live. 

College is right around the corner and the beginning of another chapter in all seniors’ young lives.  COVID-19 has taken many things away from students this year, but don’t let it take this one. Be great, and thrive no matter where one may be. Good luck dragons!