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Most high schools, colleges, and universities across the United States have closed their doors for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has affected many high school seniors' ability to visit colleges, therefore hampering their decision process.
Students are converging in communities on platforms like Reddit and Discord in order to share experiences, commiserate, and support each other in making their college decisions.
"I've got a surefire way to get into Harvard, MIT, Cal Tech," John, a 17-year-old high school senior posted on r/ApplyingToCollege, a college admissions advice subreddit. "Go ahead and develop a cure for this stupid a-s virus already; I'm sick and tired of it."
John is one of a number of high school seniors grappling with the fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has brought about school closures that mean the quintessential high school experience, for many, has ended. While some have coped by sharing performances of canceled school musicals on Twitter or by making TikToks about being forced to go to class online, many like John are taking to online forums on Reddit to discuss the college admissions woes that have come as a result of the pandemic.
For many high school seniors on subreddits like r/ApplyingToCollege, the coronavirus has thrown a wrench into their college decision process.
"One of the most impactful things on my experience was not being able to visit Clemson, which was my second choice," John said over a Reddit direct message. "I was supposed to visit a week from now but they completely closed their campus due to corona. I don't think I would've gone there but I'm just left with a feeling that I couldn't give it a fair shot since I'd never seen the campus."
John eventually settled on attending TCU, a private university not far from his hometown, which made it an easier campus to visit early on. Many students who applied to out-of-state schools, like Clemson for John, were unable to visit as the pandemic interfered with spring break plans. Other students have dealt with universities canceling admitted student days and the inability to visit schools shaping the ways that they make their college decisions.
High school students have banded together in online spaces like r/ApplyingToCollege to account for these disruptions.
Chloe Retika, a high school senior in California, made a Google document for current college students to fill out with information about their schools in order to help high school seniors make decisions. "I lost valuable opportunities to tour colleges I will spend the next four years of my life at. I know the rest of my class feels the same way," Chloe said over Instagram direct message. "Reaching out to alumni who have actually been at colleges seemed like the second best option to being there myself to best help class of 2020."
At publishing time, Retika's document contained information on over 47 different colleges and universities across the United States, ranging from eight out of the nine California state schools to private colleges like Boston College. Initially, Chloe interviewed a handful of close friends who were alumni of her high school; friends asked their friends to fill out a page about their college, and after Chloe shared the document on her personal Facebook account and her high school's Class of 2020 page, it eventually ended up on r/ApplyingToCollege. Now, she's seeking out additional contributors to write about their experiences in order to get as many schools as possible on the list.
"I didn't think this many people would read it, but now I hope as many seniors as possible during quarantine can have access and gain insight for colleges they are considering," Chloe said.
Those on r/ApplyingToCollege have made similar efforts, creating a "Virtual Visitng Days" Discord server in order to connect high school students with current college students and alumni. "With many colleges and universities closing down classes, canceling their orientations, visiting days, and advising appointments, we hope we can offer useful substitute [sic] so you can feel more confident for next fall," the server's new member welcome post reads.
Ultimately though, online spaces like r/ApplyingToCollege or even more general subreddits like r/teenagers have proven to be a space for high school students, particularly seniors who are missing out on milestones like prom or graduation, to commiserate and support each other. Some rant together in Reddit threads about online classes while others theorize about how it will affect Ivy League admissions, but in the end, they rely on a thriving digital community within which they can seek advice or crack jokes. For the high school Class of 2020, it's an opportunity to collectively mourn the experiences they've lost while working towards an uncertain future.
Read the original article on Insider