Remote learning creates challenges for Michigan high school seniors preparing for college

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Olivia Nasiatka, senior at Cousino High School, holding her Michigan State University acceptance letter.

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Olivia Nasiatka, senior at Cousino High School, holding her Michigan State University acceptance letter.

As high school seniors across Michigan approach graduation, many have spent most of their school year in front of a computer screen. School districts throughout the state had implemented remote learning to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect students, teachers and staff. 

For students continuing their education, some say online learning has created challenges as they prepare for college.  

Olivia Nasiatka, senior at Cousino High School, said she feels online learning has not set her up to be successful in college. 

“Most teachers have been super lax about everything,” said Nasiatka. “Of course, kids would prefer it to be like this, but we’re missing out on almost half a year of material. It’s going to be a big shock for kids next year when they find out that their college classes won’t be as laid back.”

College application process

Remote learning has led to difficulties in the college application process for some students. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not all current seniors have taken the SAT, typically used to measure a high school student’s readiness for college. 

Breanna Pretzer, also a senior at Cousino High School, said she found college applications difficult to navigate on her own. 

“The college application process was different because at the time I applied I did not have an SAT score yet because of COVID,” said Pretzer. “I contacted my counselor … multiple times because I was stressed out that I could possibly be doing it all wrong.” 

Senior Hannah Penfold of Laker High School said, “the entire missing the SAT thing was a big deal and it definitely made it a different experience.” 

Decisions to apply and attend college

Some seniors’ decisions to apply and attend the college of their choice have been influenced by remote learning. For students like Penfold, the possibility of online learning continuing into her college experience made her skeptical about applying.  

“I was afraid that next year would also be virtual, but I applied anyway,” said Penfold. 

Students have also missed out on opportunities to visit college campuses before applying due to the lack of campus tours and in-person student orientations as a result of COVID-19. 

Senior Josette Suarez of Berrien Springs High School said, “We won’t be able to do orientation in person, which makes me sad.” 

After being online for so long, some students have found themselves struggling with feeling ready to attend college in the fall due to the lack of preparation from their schools. 

“I feel like part of being ready is knowing how to navigate the ups and downs. I don’t feel prepared,” said Suarez.