Moving On – College 2020

Originally Published July 9, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas –So we got our high-schoolers out, with patched-up on-line classes and pieced-together virtual graduations. Now, college?

Harvard University announced July 6 that it will only conduct online classes for the coming academic year, though it will allow some students to live on campus. Full tuition, however, is still in effect. California State University – the country’s largest four-year public university system, is also opting for online-only courses in the fall 2020 semester.

Most schools, however, 60%, are at this time planning for in-person classes, while others are considering a hybrid approach.

One of these is the University of Washington, where my granddaughter begins her freshman year, after a deflated ending to high school. Currently, the UW web page offers this information:

Classes will begin as scheduled on Sept. 30, in a hybrid approach. We are offering as many in-person courses as possible, prioritizing hands-on courses, such as studio, clinical and lab courses, and courses for first-year undergraduate and graduate students. You can check the time schedule, which for most courses already indicates whether they will be taught in person or remotely. Schools and colleges will continue to update the schedule over the summer as they finalize their plans, so you can check back for additional updates as autumn quarter gets closer.

“Going away to college” used to be a BIG DEAL – the first step in growing up and becoming independent. But “going away” is the biggest concern for a fall re-opening. A college campus with dorm living is compared to a nursing home in terms of “making sure everyone gets the virus” as students live in dorms, eat in dining halls, hop between classes, and party together.

My granddaughter fortunately lives within a few miles of campus, so will continue living at home. How many students in the country have that option? I checked the National Center for Education Statistics site again for some numbers about college attendance, as of LAST year.

In fall 2019, about 19.9 million students were expected to attend college classes.

Of that:

  • 12.1 million students full time, 7.8 million part time
  • 16.9 million students in undergraduate programs, 3.0 million in grad school
  • 14.7 million students in public institutions, 5.2 million in private
  • 6.0 million students in 2-year institutions, 13.9 million students in 4-year
  • 11.3 million female students, 8.6 million male
  • 12.5 million students under age 25, 7.4 million 25 and over

Another question: how many degrees did colleges and universities expect to award at the end of the 2019-2020 school year?

  • 989,000 associate’s degrees
  • 1,975,000 bachelor’s degrees
  • 820,000 master’s degrees
  • 184,000 doctor’s degrees

Did that happen? We won’t know till the final tally comes in. We do know that spring graduation ceremonies are still on hold for many schools. My personal connection is to the University of Florida through another granddaughter, who completed her requirements for a nursing degree in a flurry of uncertainty and online classes this spring. Clinicals, well, we won’t talk about that. She was privileged with a virtual Pinning Ceremony while still in Gainesville, and “cap and gown” photos were taken by a friend as she walked around campus. She was allowed to take her State Boards, and she has moved back home temporarily, and started her first job, working in a county that is a hotbed of COVID-19 cases, and overcrowded hospitals.

The May graduation ceremonies were moved to August, but most likely, with COVID-19 cases in Florida skyrocketing, those will be postponed once again. From the UF website:

On Thursday, June 4, 2020 the State University System directed that Florida public universities plan alternatives to in-person commencement ceremonies due to continued COVID-19 health guidelines limiting gatherings. We regret the disappointment and inconvenience this will cause for graduates and their families who looked forward to attending the University of Florida’s rescheduled spring graduation weekend July 31-August 2. Rather than reschedule the spring ceremony weekend yet again only to face the possibility that it, too, will be canceled due to COVID-19, we want you to know two things. First we are committed to providing every graduate an opportunity to participate in a future in-person commencement ceremony once we are able to safely resume our regularly scheduled commencement ceremonies. Second, we will contact you once we are confident in-person ceremonies can resume. Whether it is December, May, or some other month, we look forward to welcoming you back, cheering for you and celebrating with you.

With a full-time job, away from campus, the draw of “going back to walk” is low. Students, most likely, have moved on.

Or tried.

Good luck to the millions of incoming hopefuls.