Before the pandemic, incoming animal science freshman Tyra Adair had her heart set on attending University of California (UC) Davis. However, once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it caused her to reconsider her priorities, which ultimately led to her decision to attend Cal Poly. 

Like Adair, many high school seniors have had to navigate the college application and decision process entirely virtually, and COVID-19 may have impacted which factors they considered in their decision.

Adair said that her goal to attend UC Davis was driven mostly by academics, but she said she realized that academics may not be the most important thing to her anymore.

“Throughout my four years of high school I was just on it all the time, but I forgot to build connections,” Adair said. “I was taking it for granted, and now I’m stuck in my house.”

She said she noticed that it was always about academics when she spoke about UC Davis, Adar said. However, when it came to Cal Poly, she spoke about the university in terms of how much she could grow.

“The pandemic really made me realize how valuable connections are, and how important self-growth is,” Adair said.

Adair is a first-generation college student, and she said that one of the hardest parts about doing the decision process virtually was not being able to take her parents on a tour of the campus.

“I wish that we had been able to tour the campus because my family has never gotten to see anything like that,” Adair said. “It would have made me feel more proud.”

Incoming business administration freshman Madeleine Heli said that COVID-19 made her think harder about her decision in regards to finances.

“I had to look at the tuition and balance whether it was worth paying all this money if I’m not going to have a normal pre-COVID-19 experience,” Heli said.

Like Adair, Heli said that COVID-19 caused her to consider social factors in her decision that she might have previously overlooked.

“I was kind of pushing back living like a teenager into my senior year,” Heli said. “So once the pandemic hit, and I was just isolated, I realized that academics were not my sole purpose in life and that I wanted to branch out.”

Heli said she ultimately chose Cal Poly due to the networking opportunities it would provide her.

“I was really looking for a business college that was well connected to its area and throughout the country,” Heli said.

Incoming business administration freshman Will Clark said that COVID-19 impacted his financial situation, thus impacting his college decision. He explained that his dad is a business owner and that he struggled when the pandemic first started.

“No one was really coming by the shop, there were a lot of empty days for a while,” Clark said.

Not being able to visit campus made the decision process harder for Clark, as geography was an important factor for him.

“Having access to a lot of different activities was pretty important to me,” Clark said

Incoming political science freshman Bri Sarfati said that COVID-19 was the most important factor she considered when choosing her college.

“Since I did lose my senior year, I wanted to go to a school where most of my classes will be in-person,” Sarfati said.

Sarfati’s sister attends Cal Poly, so she said she was able to go walk around campus with her, but she said that it was difficult to imagine what campus would be like post-pandemic.

“The campus was desolate, not a lot of stuff was open, so it was tough,” Sarfati said.

She ultimately chose Cal Poly because of its “Learn by Doing” mantra. 

“I’m very outgoing and I like bouncing ideas off of others, so ‘learn by doing’ was definitely one of the factors that pushed me over the edge,” Sarfati said.

Incoming English freshman Emma Hughes said that she considered attending a junior college when the pandemic began.

“If it’s going to be online, why spend all the money if you’re going to be receiving subpar education?” Hughes said.

Ultimately though, Hughes decided to attend Cal Poly.

“There are other schools, and they’re great schools, but Cal Poly is just where I want to be,” Hughes said.

Hughes was also able to visit campus with her older sister, but not seeing the campus at its full potential made the decision harder. 

“It was hard to imagine what it would actually be like when I’m there after COVID-19,” Hughes said. “A lot of information was lost because there wasn’t a tour guide.”

In regards to resources such as info sessions and school counselors, Hughes said she had access to all of them, but it was much harder to seek out help. 

Her school had sessions where she could listen to representatives from different colleges over Zoom, but she said she didn’t attend any because she was worried about how many people would show up and she didn’t want to be the only one.

“It was kind of the unknown of it all being online,” Hughes said.

Hughes said she is excited to be attending Cal Poly, and is looking forward to the newfound sense of independence it will provide her.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and starting this whole new chapter of my life, and being completely my own person away from parents and people who I’ve known forever now,” Hughes said.

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