Tasfiah Khan always expected her freshman year of college would mean she could “become more independent.” She envisioned meeting new friends, creating her own schedule and settling into a new environment.
But Khan, a senior at Manhattan/Hunter Science High School who plans to enroll at UB in the fall, thinks her vision may be “crushed” by the coronavirus. She’s worried UB will extend its “distance-learning” model into the fall semester. UB already decided the summer term will operate entirely remotely.
But the future of UB’s fall semester is still undecided. The administration is still “actively planning” for scenarios ranging from “a full return to on-campus instruction,” continuing distance learning, to “modified in-person instruction in a safe campus environment,” according to an email from UB spokesperson John DellaContrada. While UB’s top priority will be the health and wellbeing of the UB community, it will consider its reputation, education quality, “strategic goals” and its “financial footing” while planning for the fall semester, according to an April 27 email from UB President Satish Tripathi.
DellaContrada wrote that UB will keep the community informed, but its goal is to provide “the best” programs possible, considering the circumstances.
Still, incoming students say they’re concerned about potential remote instruction in the fall because they think it may impact their college experience, UB’s “student life” and their “motivation.” Some worry that remote instruction would not meet their expectations.
Incoming undergraduate students do not have the option to defer –– postpone their admission for a year –– at UB. Instead, accepted students who want to take a year off can re-apply for free within three years of their initial application, although this does not guarantee students’ acceptance.
This policy has not been amended to accommodate students who want to defer because of possible “distance learning” in the fall, but UB extended incoming students’ deposit deadline from May 1 to June 1.
Jayden Gines, a senior at Bard High School Early College Queens, also planned to come to UB in the fall. Now he’s considering putting off college for a year so he can avoid “distance learning,” which he said would have a “negative impact” on his experience.
“A big part of the reason that I chose UB was because of the student and social life,” Gines said. “If online class is a thing, that would eliminate all social activities.”
But if Gines does choose to start at UB a year later than expected, he’d have to apply again next year and risk losing his admission.
Some students, like Salman Ahmed, a senior at Math Science Technology Preparatory School, plan to attend UB in the fall regardless of whether classes are online. Ahmed said he won’t let COVID-19 stop him from “living his life,” and he plans to come to UB next semester no matter what.
“I would 1,000-times rather be on campus for my very first [semester],” Ahmed said. “But, because of these circumstances I’ll have to accept that [I may] have to take online classes because that’s really the only option.”
Jack Tarr, a senior at City Honors High School who plans to join UB in the fall, said that it has been hard for him to “stay on top of” deadlines without on-campus events for incoming students. UB cancelled all in-person recruitment events through the end of May, including campus tours, accepted student receptions in metro New York, UB 360° Accepted Students Day events, and all in-state and out-of-state college fairs and high school visits.
“Being in a state of quarantine has prevented me from being able to gain a physical understanding of the campus at UB and has caused many of the university orientation events to be online,” Tarr said.
Khan said it’s “annoying” that her senior year of high school was dominated by distance learning and it would be worse if her freshman year of college was too. She said remote instruction wouldn’t meet her college expectations and that she’s worried she won’t be able to stay motivated.
“[Remote classes] wouldn’t meet my expectations at all and it would ruin the way I see college life to be, especially how I interact with new people. I wouldn’t have that independence and that schedule that I had set in my mind. Instead, I would lack motivation and may even end up doing worse in my classes because of it.”
Vijay Maheshwari contributed reporting to this story.
Julian Roberts-Grmela is a senior news editor and can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @GrmelaJulian.
Julian Roberts-Grmela is a senior news editor for The Spectrum and an English and philosophy major. His favorite book is “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith and he hopes that one day his writing will be as good as hers.