The university extended the date for incoming freshmen students to edit preferences on their housing application from May 7 to June 1 due to COVID-19 complications.
The pandemic, which has caused unprecedented increases in employment, was a reason for concern among many incoming freshmen — some of whom voiced their difficulties paying the housing deposit by the initial May 7 date, which also produced problems in the process of securing roommates, university spokesperson Matt Lazier said.
The California State University’s chancellor recently declared intentions to hold most classes online in the fall, with only a partial reopening of campus. President Armstrong said in a campus-wide email that first-year housing details have yet to be determined; there’s the possibility of “de-densifying” the residence halls with only single and double rooms, a delayed move-in date for the incoming class (dependent on the county’s reopening phase), or no on-campus housing at all. In short, many incoming freshmen have said they are not quite sure what to expect for their first quarter of college.
“We can still take out our [housing] deposits and we can still uncommit … I’ve heard a lot of kids are doing that this year, which is crazy,” incoming Cal Poly freshman Kaley Schneider said. “A lot of kids want to take a gap year.”
Schneider said she’s heard of several recent high school graduates from her hometown opting to take classes at community college to save money if the four-year university they planned on attending would be operating fully online.
Cal Poly, however, does not allow incoming freshmen to defer their acceptance. If freshmen want to take a gap year, they have to reapply the following year.
President Armstrong said in the campus-wide email that students can expect more solidified plans for fall on August 26. As of right now, much of the class of 2024 has made payments to University Housing without knowing how they will be situated in residence halls. Some students, like Schneider, applied for a triple with two other incoming students, though the possibility of de-densification would not allow for any more than two students per dorm room. After June, students cannot edit their housing community preferences or change their initial roommate choices.
“Coronavirus has made going to college really scary, because it’s already such a big change you kind of just want to jump into it,” incoming Cal Poly freshman Alexandra Vollucci said. “But we don’t know if it’s online or if we’re going to have actual school … and we’re already getting used to a new level school, so not being in the actual setting makes it more difficult.”
University Housing said they hoped the deadline extension might give students more flexibility.
And though Armstrong said he remains optimistic that students will be allowed to return in the fall, he also noted in the email that the pandemic’s variable nature has made it impossible to make definite statements about the upcoming academic year.
“None of us really know what’s going on,” Schneider said. “It’s annoying, but I understand that no one really knows.”