Colleges all over the nation are closed, but learning is open.
Distance learning, that is.
“Selena, I see your hand’s up, you have a question?” asks Broward College assistant professor Rhonda Bobb, speaking to students with whom she’s interacting on her computer laptop.
From the instructor to a student.
“This is what we will be going over this morning,” says a biology professor at Yale University to a student who is listening on her laptop.
Whether you’re a student at Yale or an assistant professor at Broward College, you are adjusting to the brave new world of college via a teleconferencing platform such as Zoom.
“Not only are the students a little anxious, as well as the professors, they want to make sure they’re following the objectives of the course and they’re taking care of what needs to be taught to the students and that the students are satisfied and everyone’s getting it, so everyone’s a little bit anxious,” Bobb said.
“It almost seems like everyone across the country, all colleges are doing the exact same thing so there’s this big solidarity between all college students, attending classes on Zoom,” said Yale student Nicole Odzer.
The college kids call it Zoom University. My daughter has turned our dining room into her classroom, extremely disappointed at the way COVID-19 has wrecked her senior semester. Yale announced today that the spring commencement, at which she would’ve graduated, has been canceled.
“Although I am very lucky to be able to be somewhere where I have a home, with resources and accessible internet and food and feel secure in that way whereas a lot of Yale students don’t have that so I feel very grateful,” Odzer said.
“I had students who studied for a year for an exam, the SAT, then they found out the day before it wasn’t being offered,” said Mandee Adler of International College Counselors.
Adler’s business is prepping high school kids for college. She’s written books on how to get students into Ivy League schools and says the COVID-19 closures have the most impact on current high school juniors. They’re in the middle of boosting their college resumes.
“I think of the kids with extracurricular activities, those kids who are the musicians, or the athletes, and this was their big year to showcase their award or showcase their science fair project or show how fast they can row or how fast they can run, and none of that is happening,” Adler said.
Adler is in touch with dozens of colleges and her message to high school kids and parents is don’t panic, every university recognizes these are extraordinary times and they will adjust their admission standards and requirements accordingly.
The next thing to watch for is whether scholarship programs will adjust their deadlines. For example, Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship relies on SAT scores, but the SAT tests have been canceled for May, so the state might push that deadline back.
Florida's state universities have been directed to refund room and board fees. That’s because students were kicked out of their dorms and could not use the meal plans for which they have already paid. Each university is supposed to be coming up with its own refund plan.