To defer or not to defer?

How COVID-19 has impacted the college process


McKenzie Henningsen

One group that is uniquely affected by COVID-19 is the high school classes of 2020 and 2021. 

by Jharna Kamath, Assistant Editor

The impacts of COVID-19 have undoubtedly been felt by all of us, no matter how young or old. One group that is uniquely affected is the high school classes of 2020 and 2021. 

The class of 2020 was blindsided by the onset of the pandemic, and many of their post-high-school plans have been impacted. One option as colleges and universities go online is for students to accept their enrollment but defer for a year, meaning they will start their freshman year of college at the same time as the class of 2021. For instance, 20% of Harvard’s admitted class this year has chosen to defer enrollment.

“The other thing to keep in mind is whether students are deferring (not attending college anywhere for a year) or choosing to start their college education at their local community college,” college coach Ann Blumrich said. “Those students who chose to start elsewhere (such as ACC) will then have to reapply to the four-year school as a transfer student.”

As our situation progresses, considering deferral might even be a reality for the class of 2021.

“I think everyone should consider deferring enrollment if the tuition and fees stay the same because colleges can’t deliver the same level of academic and social involvement for students,” senior McKenzie Henningsen said. “Unless I got into a really great school, I’d likely defer my enrollment and use the extra year to work or take classes at ACC to make use of the time.”

However other students are not considering putting off the start of their college education.

“I don’t think I would [defer] quite honestly,” senior Kayla Gillen said. “I’d be worried about a gap year hurting me.”

Even without the question of taking a year off of school, the class of 2021 has experienced other interruptions to their application cycle.

“I expected to test spring junior year and that hasn’t happened,” Gillen said. “Despite many schools being test optional, I feel at a disadvantage for elite universities and feel like there is a big hole in my application. Additionally, I had many service projects planned, specifically for the service group that I founded, and it hasn’t been able to really get up and going. Those were things I felt were vital to my applications.”

Despite all of this, Blumrich advises that students try their best to apply as normal.

“Things are so much in flux that it is hard to predict anything,” Blumrich said. “That being said, I definitely recommend students applying to two safety colleges that have the program they want and where they will be happy attending.”