The next fall semester will show a more normal experience as the university resumes campus life and students return to face-to-face learning.
But last year, the pandemic reshaped many people’s college career paths. When they’re heading for the fall of 2021, what they’re picking up now isn’t necessarily where they once thought they were.
Last year, some students decided to postpone college, disrupting the normal routines of many students after graduating from high school. This year, students did not postpone college, but the pandemic influence shaped their college choices.
For Katia Del Toro, that means being close to the house. For her sister, Kalia, that means catching up after a tough year in college. For Keira Seraya, that means considering her safety.
Katya, who recently graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Denver, decided to go to Regis University instead of a distant school. That way, even if the pandemic worsens, she doesn’t have to travel far to start distance learning.
In addition, the school frequently contacted her on how to keep her students safe. She said they had erased the idea of postponing college. Katya also didn’t want to delay her education.
“I want to go to the medical field, so I’m trying to break through,” she said. “I don’t want to extend the time it takes to get an education.”
Meanwhile, Kalia, who attends Colorado State University, said she failed in class last year and considered options for taking vacations.
Kalia, an engineering major, said she was struggling in other classes to study online. Some of her classes used pre-recorded lectures while others were alive. She didn’t feel that she could easily help her with her homework and didn’t learn enough.
“But I learned that some things are out of your control, and you can’t beat yourself about it,” she said.
And Keilaseraya, who recently graduated from Martin Luther King Early College, said one of her top priorities was her own health and safety. She didn’t want to be far from home, so she chose Colorado State University instead of the University of Oklahoma.
Closer to the support system feels like a safer option and will allow her to prosper, she said. Last year also brought her closer to her family.
“I don’t think I would sit down and tell my parents what I wanted to do in my life until the pandemic happened,” Celaya said. “I now know that I’m ready to go to college and I’m confident and people are pushing me.”