The American college life isn't coming back anytime soon. Nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, universities continue to impose drastic restrictions on students, even as vaccines are now available and the virus poses a minimal threat to young people. Some schools don't allow students to have guests in dorm rooms, others have forced quarantine areas for students who test positive or are exposed to the virus. UC Berkeley has even banned outdoor exercise.
Beyond the restrictions themselves are the enforcement mechanisms. Some schools have installed security cameras to catch rules violators, aforementioned UC Berkeley has officers on patrol to watch for rulebreakers, and many schools are encouraging students to tattle or snitch on fellow students who violate the COVID rules.
With all of this going on, it's not surprising that fewer high schoolers are applying for college this year. Some college students are even writing columns to express their frustration. College prep expert Jean Burk has seen a lot of this since the pandemic began. "Many kids are not only being restricted to their dorms, but in some cases they're even being quarantined and doing online classes in their dorms, so why are they even there," she tells KTRH. "
As a result, college---once thought of as a bastion of freedom, independence and social life---has now become a rigid, solitude, totalitarian fortress of rules and enforcement. "With this code of conduct of masking, mandatory testing, distancing and all that...people are going to say forget that," says Burk. "Either they're not going to go at all, or they're just going to break the rules."
The effects of this will be felt by the schools themselves with lower enrollment, but also by society with fewer well-rounded, college-prepared people ready to enter the workforce. "Half of college students say this (pandemic) is affecting their ability to even complete a degree, so now we're going to see a huge amount of dropouts," says Burk.
"You've got some kids trying to speed up their graduation, trying to add more classes so they can just get out of there, and then other ones who are taking less classes, which means they're going to take a lot longer to graduate and take on more debt," she continues. "So either way, not the college that they signed up for."