Class of 2020 reflect on their college decisions, offer advice to the next graduating class


2020 CHS graduates give 2021 seniors college advice during unprecedented times.

Jacqueline Litowinsky

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, young adults have faced unique and difficult challenges. When thinking about the consequences of a deadly disease, these issues wouldn’t necessarily be the first to come to mind.

“I haven’t been able to visit many schools, so that has made it harder to decide where I want to apply,” said Senior Madeline Williams of Wall. “I believe that realistically there’s a chance that I’ll have to do school remotely depending on where I go.”

Both high school seniors and college students are experiencing many drawbacks as they deal with the college application process and being a college freshman during a time of social distancing and mask wearing. 

The college search and application process, usually made complicated by test scores and recommendation letters, is now burdened by a pandemic that has killed over 1.6 million people worldwide, altering the senior experience dramatically.

“COVID-19 has mostly impacted my campus tours since most schools didn’t allow guided tours anymore,” said Senior Kiera Higgins of Sea Girt. “I was still able to drive through some schools, but it wasn’t really the same as getting information from a student on a tour.”

College students, whether they’re taking classes from home or on campus, are facing many unprecedented restrictions because of COVID-19. Universities across the country have differing protocols and students, including CHS Class of 2020 alumnus Neil Estrada, a freshman at Cornell University, were forced to make tough decisions.

“I was only home since Thanksgiving, which from what I understand is what happened at the overwhelming majority of universities in the country. My school will return in the spring, but with a fully online schedule, I’m debating if it’s worth returning myself,” Estrada said.

CHS Class of 2020 alumna Alexa Feder, a freshman at the University of Connecticut, said that there are firm protocols when taking classes on campus.

“UConn had pretty strict rules in place regarding COVID-19 so it was definitely hard to meet people,” she said. “You’re not allowed any ‘guests’ in your dorm rooms. In the residence halls, RAs are quick to hand out citations.”

Seniors are currently thinking about all of these factors as they apply to various universities and make plans following graduation. 

With the added worry of a pandemic, Senior Brooke Stark of Manasquan carefully tried to map out her future.

“Right now, after graduation I plan to attend the college I choose just as I had planned before COVID-19,” Stark said. “Hopefully, by that time things will be at least a little bit better and more under control.”

Feder recommended that seniors stay positive as they approach their future in uncertain times.

“Just remember that you are not alone in this process,” she said. “Nobody knows the ‘right’ answer because there isn’t one! It’s extremely important to stay optimistic and excited about this new chapter in your life. Just follow your college’s rules and make the most out of it.”