COVID, College, and the Class of 2021: What to Expect (and How to Deal)

Class of 2021

If you’re a student–or the parent of a student–prepared to graduate high school in the Class of 2021, then you’ve already been wondering about how this pandemic is going to affect your experience searching for and applying for colleges.

The truth is, there are going to be some significant differences. But don’t panic. It’s not going to be a nightmare. It’s just going to be different. And we’ve got the answers you need.

So, let’s get right to it. Based on years of experience college planning, here are the changes we are anticipating working around for the Class of 2021:

1.) Some schools will be offering less gift aid: Last week we mentioned there will be less gift aid to go around. This is not to say you’re not going to get scholarships or financial aid; so please don’t freak out! But you have to understand how schools offer gift aid in order to understand how this is going to be affected.

You see, schools offer gift aid based on their endowment structures. A school with a healthy, large endowment and fewer students has more money to offer than schools with smaller endowments and larger student populations. And with the pandemic impacting the market in a negative way, endowments will take a hit across the board… but you’re going to see schools that had smaller endowments having a harder time offering aid.
This doesn’t mean you will get no money from schools. But what it means is that it’s more important than ever to do your research and homework on schools before you apply to them. This is what we do all day at College Liftoff. We know the financial health at set up of these schools. We’ll help you look at schools that are graduating kids and placing them well with strong salaries…because the Class of 2021 is going to be graduating college in 2025 and potentially entering a REALLY tough job market.
This, honestly, is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. The job market is going to be hard for while, with double digit unemployment going into next year.
So, for the Class of 2021–make sure your school is going to place you with a job. That’s their job–but nobody talks about it or thinks about it like that. That’s what you’re paying a college to do.
So also, make sure you’re picking majors and degree sets that are relevant to what the market is going to need in 2025–this is also what we do all day at College Liftoff. We want to help students with that so they avoid under-employment. If students pick majors that aren’t in demand…or if they pick a school didn’t have a reputation in that space to begin with… it’s going to lead to under-employment.
And that, along with too much student loan debt, is what we work so hard to avoid. So, if you’re with us…don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. This is more important than ever before.
2.) The Class of 2021 may be competing with more applicants: If we look at historical trends, we can see that people flock to education in down markets. So, it’s reasonable to expect that this will happen again, as unemployment is so high. People often return to school during this time, with the thought that more education will make them more marketable.
Again, this is all predictions based on what we’re seeing and historical trends.
So, what’s the best advice we can give to help the Class of 2021 on this front? Be REALLY SMART about the schools you’re applying to. You’re going to need to have a solid, researched and strategic reason you’re applying to the schools you’re applying to…. and we’ll work through that with you.
3.) You’ve probably heard that some schools are going to go out of business: You might be worried that this may create more competition, with fewer schools for students to apply to. Don’t worry about that so much. What you want to make sure of, however, is that you’re not going to be applying to will be around in a few years.
We can help you with that. We are constantly studying the financial health of schools. We won’t let you pick schools that may be at risk for closure. They’ll never tell you if they’re at risk…but we’ll be able to advise you.
4.) Applying for college with a reduced resume: The Class of 2021’s applications are obviously going to look different than every class before. They have less academics to report due to the lost school time from COVID-19. The ACT/SAT are diminishing in value.
So what’s left to put on the application?
This is where COLLEGE ESSAYS ARE GOING TO BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER BEFORE. And College Liftoff is set to help you with that. We have an amazing Writing Center designed specifically to help you create your best college essays. We are hosting virtual College Essay Writing Camps throughout the summer to help the Class of 2021 finish their best Common App Essay in just a week.
Even if you or your student get great grades in English–you’ll want to sign up for an essay camp. There’s a major difference between high school writing and collegiate writing. It’s a different style admissions officers are looking for…and remember, they’re reading tooons of essays. Your essay has to make a compelling sales pitch in a concise way….so we can help with that.
5.) Last, but not least…college tuition MAY start going up again: This is just an educated prediction we’re making. Here are the facts: colleges have lost a lot of money. They have costs to recoup. Even if tuition is capped…fees, etc. can still rise. And they most likely will. Costs may go up and you won’t realize it until it’s too late because colleges aren’t going to make it obvious for you. But we’ll be able to help you decipher and make decisions that work with your budget.
So, in conclusion, things are going to be different for the Class of 2021. It’s more important than ever before to work with professionals who know how to navigate this challenging new landscape, and help your child and family. We have the experience and expertise to guide your child to their best college and career path, no matter what’s going on in the world.
So, especially to all our clients–don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We’re so happy to be helping you map out your child’s best educational path, pandemic or not. We will work tirelessly to help your child make the best decisions when it comes to his or her college education, and will walk you through every step of the way.
We’ve helped more than a thousand students find their best college and career path, while finding ways to save their families more than $50 million combined.