By Joie Tyrrell
Newfield High School senior Gabby Pegg applied to 17 colleges and universities and was about to tour a few — including Harvard and Yale — before making her decision where to attend.
But with campuses closed nationwide because of the coronavirus, Pegg, 17, like thousands of other high school seniors who have yet to commit to a college or university, will have to make her choice from a distance.
“There is only so much a virtual tour can show you,” said Pegg, of Coram, who attends high school in the Middle Country district. “It can’t show you the teaching style or the peer environment, and if these next few years are supposed to determine the rest of my life path, I want to make sure I am in the right environment and making the right decision. But I don’t know if I can get that through a virtual tour.”
Colleges and universities nationwide currently also implementing distance learning for students and dealing with other issues, such as figuring out how to reimburse displaced students for housing and other costs. Michael B. Horn, of Lexington, Massachusetts, who has authored and co-authored multiple books on education, said uncertainty abounds for higher education nationwide.
“Families don’t know what they’ll be able to afford, and there’s no certainty that students will be able to live together on college campuses in the fall,” said Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation and a distinguished fellow at the nonprofit think tank.