Why the coronavirus may help admissions at some colleges

Published: May. 7, 2020 at 3:13 PM EDT
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College campuses would usually be filled with prospective students but they remain bare amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Kelly O'Brien spoke with North Country schools to see what this could mean for enrollment in the fall.

Tristan Carey is a junior at Crown Point High School. College is already something on his mind and he's done a few tours virtually.

"I think I could go to a school that I haven't seen in person yet," Carey said.

His eyes are set on a military school like Norwich University but he has looked at schools closer to home like Paul Smith's College.

"It was a beautiful campus, it was nice to see," Carey said.

Colleges are trying to figure out this virtual world, offering tours and open houses from the comfort of students' living rooms.

"Our admissions office has moved all of its visitation and events online," said Carrie Woodward of SUNY Plattsburgh.

SUNY Plattsburgh says while it has been successful in its move to a web-based platform, there are concerns about the fall semester's enrollment numbers.

"Particularly about our students from the downstate region," Woodward said.

A high percentage of SUNY Plattsburgh students are from downstate. Their homes are in the heart of the pandemic, their families out of work.

"Facing some pretty difficult circumstances right now in terms of family finances and health concerns. What we're seeing right now is that there probably will be an impact in enrollment come fall," Woodward said.

"The biggest change that impacts students is that they can't come to campus in person right now," said Anna Miarka-Grzelak of Clinton Community College.

Clinton Community College is also riding the virtual wave but thinks the pandemic may actually help boost their enrollment.

"Community college with lower tuition, all the transferability that it provides later-- actually people may choose that as a safe option right now," Miarka-Grzelak said.

The school is mainly a commuter school but does recruit students from downstate. Admissions is also seeing interest from people who are laid off or furloughed, looking to use this time to retrain in their field.

"For them actually, the campus doesn't matter as much as what can you offer me within the schedule that you have and the cost that works for me," Miarka-Grzelak said.

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