NU Class of 2024 makes college decisions during the pandemic

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(Photo courtesy Joanne Haner) Joanne Haner, a senior at American Heritage School in Florida, was accepted into NU’s Class of 2024. She must accept or reject her admissions offer by May 1.

Zoe Malin, Reporter

Julianna Zitron, a current senior at Townsend Harris High School in New York, was accepted to Northwestern in March. After the initial excitement wore off, Zitron said panic set in. Not only has she never been to NU’s campus, she is now also unable to visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If I wasn’t stuck at home, I would have been flying to Evanston right now to tour the school,” Zitron said. “I have to make a decision within the next few weeks and I’ve never even stepped foot in the state of Illinois.”

In the midst of the pandemic, high school seniors across the country have to make college decisions during a very uncertain time. While May 1 is the traditional deadline for prospective students to accept admission offers, a number of institutions have delayed the deadline to June 1 due to the novel coronavirus.

Unlike some of its peers, Northwestern has not postponed its decision deadline. Accepted students must submit their nonrefundable tuition and housing deposits by May 1 to confirm their place in the first-year class.

However, the Northwestern Office of Undergraduate Admissions canceled upcoming information sessions, campus tours and large group visits, according to its website. It also canceled Wildcat Days and Purple Preview, the school’s program for high school students to shadow undergraduates for a day.

Chloe Chow, a senior at Evanston Township High School, said while it would have been nice for NU to push back its acceptance deadline, it wouldn’t have helped her decision-making process. Chow has admissions offers from schools with both May 1 and June 1 acceptance deadlines. Because of this, she said she has to choose a school by the earlier date regardless.

Even though Chow attended a NU STEM tour information session, which highlights the University’s science, math and engineering programs, she never participated in the general campus tour. She feels like she missed out on visiting dining halls, classrooms and other University buildings.

To learn more about the NU student experience, Chow connected with an ETHS alum who now attends the university. Ultimately, she committed to NU because it felt “comfortable.”

“Northwestern was my top choice, but there wasn’t much I could use to make my decision in the end,” Chow said. “I just sort of picked a school I was familiar with since I haven’t visited the other schools I got into.”

Zoe Maroko, a senior at Howell High School’s Fine and Performing Arts Academy in New Jersey, said she values the insight in-person campus visits give prospective students.

When she toured NU about a year ago, Maroko said she loved the architecture and the view of the lake. But its students stood out to her most, she said. Maroko described those she met as enthusiastic and passionate about varied interests. Bonding with members of NU’s student body, she said, made her feel at home.

“On paper, a lot of schools looked good for me,” Maroko said. “But being on campus changes everything.”

Because they can’t physically visit campus, prospective students are finding other ways to learn more about NU. Zitron reached out to the alum who interviewed her during NU’s application process. She also utilized NU’s online virtual tour to see the campus.

Additionally, Undergraduate Admissions is offering live, virtual information sessions and student panels that prospective students can register for online. The information sessions will be hosted by admission directors and current students. Prospective students can also see past virtual information sessions on the Northwestern Admissions YouTube channel.

Joanne Haner, a senior at American Heritage School in Florida, said the NU Class of 2024 Facebook group has been the most helpful of all the resources she has access to. There, admitted students answer each other’s questions and quell worries about topics like finding a roommate or changing their major. Some students have tried to convince others on the fence to commit to NU. Haner said there is a sense of “spirit and camaraderie” already.

Despite any uncertainty and stress she has felt, Haner said everything “worked out” for her. She said she’s lucky to have been accepted into a school she loves.

“At the end of the day, I’m really looking forward to being a student at Northwestern,” Haner said. “I think this is the right decision. Maybe it was meant to be.”

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