“Colleges Brace for More-Widespread Outbreak of Coronavirus,” an article that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education on February 29, 2020, reports that colleges and universities are planning how they will respond if the spread of the Coronavirus continues or becomes more serious. They are considering ending their academic years ahead of schedule, canceling their summer terms, and taking other steps. And of course, they are devoting serious thought to finding ways to protect students from becoming infected, or to treating any students who do.

They are making plans, which of course is critically important for them and their students. But let’s ask a slightly different question about the Coronavirus . . .

How will you adjust if this possible crisis upends your college life and plans?

Whether you are a student or a parent of a college student or applicant, here are preparations to think about.

For Current Students (and by Extension, their Families) . . .

  • If the current academic year ends early, how will that affect your ability to get a summer job or a job after graduation? Should you start to apply for jobs now?
  • If you are currently on a study-abroad program or planning to take part in one, should you change those plans? How should you adjust your thinking, your course enrollments, and your plans?
  • If summer sessions are canceled, will that affect your ability to earn credit hours you need to graduate this year?
  • If you are a senior and your college will shut down early this year, how long will your university-supplied health coverage plan be in effect? Would this be a good time to investigate supplemental coverage plans?
  • If you are counting on the income you are earning from a job on campus and the school year ends early, should you seek other employment?
  • If by any chance you do contract the Coronavirus, could that impact your other health issues? This might be a good time to schedule an appointment or a phone conversation with your primary healthcare provider.
  • If your current activities, including sports, involve travel to other campuses or countries, should you continue to take part in them? We are not suggesting that anyone should overreact to the threats posed by the current situation, only saying that this might be an issue you want to consider.

For Current College Applicants (and by Extension, their Families) . . .

  • If the crisis worsens, will you still be able to visit the colleges you were planning to? If by the end of the school year the crisis has in fact worsened, how will you adjust?
  • How good are the healthcare plans at the colleges where you might apply? Should that consideration impact on your college choices? And would this be a good time to think about obtaining supplemental coverage?
  • Do you have any health-related issues or problems you might choose to address before you head off to college next year? This might be a good time to direct special attention to them so you can arrive at college next year in tip-top shape.

We Are Not Being Alarmists, Only Planners

We are not expecting the Coronavirus situation to become a pandemic, to adversely affect the health of large numbers of people, or to disrupt academia. We are only suggesting we all think ahead of time about how the situation might affect college plans and success. We wish all of you robust good health and successful student life.

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