Preparing for college comes with expected stress of choosing classes and moving to a new town. But this year’s incoming Loyola students face a global pandemic on top of the typical nerves.
Loyola moved classes online and cleared out campuses last month as fears of the coronavirus spread increased. Loyola Weekend, an event for prospective students to visit campus, was moved to a virtual format and orientation for new students will be held online, Loyola officials said.
Now, some students are coming into the college experience with added anxieties. Deanna Cipek, who’s planning to transfer to Loyola in the fall to study history and education, said the pandemic meant she couldn’t come to visit campus and meet with her advisor.
“Obviously I couldn’t go onto campus and check everything out, but with this type of situation it’s not like I’m blaming anybody,” said Cipek, 20.
She said her advisor has been helpful and the two were able to meet over video-chat program Zoom, but there were some hiccups concerning her enrollment deposit in Loyola’s online portal, LOCUS, that made it more difficult to get her campus housing figured out.
Loyola officials are watching public health recommendations and will determine how the next few months will look based on those, according to a statement sent to The Phoenix by Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich. The statement said resources are available for students and families, including financial aid.
“At present, we are preparing for many scenarios to ensure that Loyola’s quality education and student services continue without interruption,” the statement said. “Our top priority, of course, is the health, safety, well-being and academic success of each of our students — current and prospective.”
Rozenich added Loyola is holding weekly panels and presentations for prospective students, and the university’s virtual resources have been successful so far. The virtual version of Loyola Weekend drew more than 1,300 participants and gave the school positive feedback, Rozenich said.
Estelle Fearing, a 17-year-old planning to major in data science at Loyola starting in August, said she worries Loyola won’t be able to start in-person classes when she comes to campus from Minnesota in the fall.
Though starting college online would be a “big bummer,” Fearing said she would continue talking with other prospective Loyola students online and try to get as much of the college experience as she can.
While Loyola hasn’t said whether classes will continue online next semester, colleges around the country are considering halting in-person courses until 2021, many university leaders have said. Rozenich didn’t answer questions about Loyola’s plan for the fall semester.
In the event that Loyola classes are held online in the fall, Cipek said she’d consider taking the semester off from school.
“The quality of education completely goes down when you go from in-class to online,” she said. “I would expect them to adjust some payments if that’s the plan they want to do.”
Fearing said even though she’s getting in touch with other Loyola students online, moving orientation online increases her nerves.
“It would probably make me more nervous because it’s a big opportunity to make new friends, to learn what the campus is like and the atmosphere,” Fearing said.