Durham High Students Adapt their Education Due to COVID-19

DURHAM: Durham High graduates and seniors have experienced many setbacks in their college careers due to COVID-19. 

The effects of COVID-19 have complicated many things that society had taken for granted. For the classes of 2020 and 2021, it has affected the beginning of their college careers. This year’s seniors have faced countless obstacles, while the class of 2020’s futures have been greatly altered.

Before COVID-19, 2020 Durham High School graduate Shawn Brannan had committed to attending Occidental College, a private school in Los Angeles. However, after learning that his private education would be online, Brannan reevaluated his commitment.  Brannan now attends Butte College in hopes of transferring to a four-year college to study pre-medicine. 

Brannan said, “ [COVID-19] changed everything. I mean, I’m still living at home. If you told me that I’d be living at home right now a year ago, I wouldn’t believe you. So it definitely changed how things have played out so far.” 

Although his plans were drastically changed by Covid-19, Brannan remains optimistic about his future. He plays football for Butte and hopes to continue playing later in his college career. While Brannan was initially disappointed by his prospects, he concluded that staying home was for the better. 

Though COVID-19  has encouraged many graduates to stay closer to home, senior Abigail Thorpe aspires to live outside of California. 

“I’ve always wanted to go further away for college,” said Thorpe, who has lived in Durham her whole life. “When I started looking to apply I was drawn more to Arizona and out-of-state schools because I felt like if I didn’t leave Durham or California now I never would.” 

Thorpe was lured by the promise of on-campus learning, which many Arizona universities are offering this fall. 

For many 2021 seniors, the application process was also harder than they had anticipated. Normally, students frequently meet with their counselors for advice. Senior Bridget McCabe found this help more difficult to access. On a hybrid learning schedule, McCabe attends school only two days a week. Despite the limited hours, Durham High teachers and counselors have attempted to help with the application process. 

“We really don’t have any time to work out all of the issues with our college applications,” she said. 

Fortunately, colleges have provided many accommodations in response to student difficulties. 

College Readiness Coordinator Colleen Coutts commented, “I’ve been here for 18 years, and I have never seen them extend the college application deadlines to the level that they have this year.” 

Coutts explained that colleges experienced very low enrollment rates the previous year. In hopes of recruiting more applicants this upcoming year, November and December deadlines have been extended into January, some even as late as March. 

Students have also encountered positive benefits of COVID-19. Quarantine provided McCabe with an opportunity. With more spare time, she was able to apply to more colleges. What had previously discouraged McCabe from applying to these schools was the time she needed to write application essays.