(In)Decision Day 2020

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Photos courtesy of Chloe Min, Lilliana Silver, Naya Weizel, and Jolie Zenna

For high school seniors across the country, May 1st annually marks National Commitment Day, a date that has historically been celebrated in the hallways of Cresskill High School with lots of photos, congratulations, and school spirit. This day usually signifies the end of the college process for students, a many times grueling experience that may start as early as freshman year. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent mandatory quarantining of people across the globe, many Cresskill students have expressed some sort of apprehension in regards to enrollment in the fall. 

Many universities are withholding comment as to whether or not they will be opening their doors for traditional classes on campus in the fall as to not pass judgement too soon on the situation. In an ideal world, schools across the country would reopen in time for the ‘20-’21 academic year, but such a decision cannot be made yet given the nature of the pandemic and the many aspects of the virus that are still unknown to scientists. Instead, for example, schools like the University of Connecticut have released statements affirming that “though no decision has been made, faculty should plan as though courses will be delivered online [for the fall semester].” This seems to be a general consensus for schools across the country: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

In the meantime, many students of the Class of 2020 are weighing their options for the coming year in terms of collegiate enrollment because of  the many uncertainties that this pandemic has imposed. 

“I’m definitely hoping to be at school in person coming this fall,” says David Chu (NYU Stern ‘24). “But if that doesn’t happen, I still don’t think it will affect my plan to attend NYU. I am […] looking at the college experience from a four-year perspective and I think it will be a good investment, even if my classes end up taking place online for some time.”  

Like Chu, many students will be choosing to attend their respective schools in the fall, regardless of whether or not the first semester will commence online. However, other students do not have a choice in the matter. 

For Ben Dubetsky (USMA ‘24) and Jin Yoo (USNA ‘24), who will both be attending federal services academies in the upcoming year, they have already been notified of their required, in-person attendance on campus starting in June. According to Yoo, the situation at hand has been especially hard for him because of the cancellation “of [his] track season, which [he] heavily relied on to get fit… [and he will] be gone training while everyone else is spending more time with their friends and family” come summertime.”

On the other hand, it seems that other students are reconsidering whether the high costs of attendance for higher education are worth it at this point in time, especially if the fall semester will in fact be held online. 

In Elyssa Ledven’s (PSU ‘24) opinion, “if school doesn’t start in the fall, [she’d] reconsider where [she enrolls] because spending so much money to take online courses when there are other alternatives is ridiculous.” 

For students across the country, community colleges and gap years are becoming quite valid options, despite the stigmatization they have faced in the past. Additionally, as a result of the very little communication on behalf of universities in regards to financial aid and scholarships, a higher education may no longer be financially feasible for a lot of families if the requirements to earn and maintain merit and need-based aid are changed while classes continue online. 

All in all, there is not much for any of us to do other than to try and navigate a tumultuous situation as best as we possibly can. While we continue to grapple with a collective feeling of uncertainty harbored towards the future, it is important to appreciate our successes in such a bittersweet time for the graduating class.

The Communiqué would like to commend each member of the Class of 2020 on their hard work and future plans after high school. Congratulations!