College plans in a pandemic: More students applying close to home


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With the approach of May comes decision day, where many high school seniors will be locking in a college for the fall. But with so much change in the pandemic, high school counselors tell us some students are considering a complete 180 on their original plans.

A year ago, Aidan Vitticore, a senior at Canandaigua Academy had a vision of everything he wanted in a college experience.

“I really was looking at schools all over the state, down south to study business maybe play soccer,” he said.

But there’s been no college visits, and some of his friends who are finishing their first year of college tell him it wasn’t what they expected at all. The pandemic has cut down social interaction and opportunity to get out and mingle with other kids in the form of clubs and extracurriculars.

Vitticore says he’s considering options he never thought would be on the table, like a gap year.

“May not even be this year, I may decide to take another path, I have avenues through entrepreneurship, merchandising I might want to explore.”

Mary Crelley is a guidance counselor with Gananda School District. According to her, Vitticore is not alone. She says there isn’t necessarily a drop in college applications this year, but lots of students have expressed this uncertainty with how to go about their college plans.

“This group of seniors has had time to come to terms with everything going on, they’re better prepared than last years seniors, the big question for them is ‘I don’t know what I am committing to,'” she said.

There’s also a desire to apply more local.

“Everyone has that idea, ‘am I going to spend $50,000 on a campus and be told I have to live home anyways, if that’s the case, why don’t I just apply closer to home,'” she said.

Counselors within the Rochester City School District say its the same with their students, according to Crystal Clark, Director of Student Services.

But Clark says there is a silver lining – SUNY recently waived a fee on college applications for low-income families. She says this might be just what a family needs if financial difficulties amid the pandemic are making college a harder reach.

“It breaks down barriers to success, our goal is to break down those barriers to get students closer to what they want to do,” she said. And it can encourage more students to apply, as well. “It’s going to encourage more students to apply because they don’t have that financial burden.”

As for Vitticore – the idea of studying close to home isn’t off the table.

“I’m applying local, I’m going to leave options open, give myself time to think,” he said.

The SUNY waiver allows students to apply to up to seven colleges – that would normally be $350 a person.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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