19 May CORONAVIRUS BLOG: WEEK 8
It has been eight weeks since we first started our Coronavirus Blog, posting college-related news and updates, and stories about college students and other members of college communities across the U.S—how some have been making direct contributions to the fight against the pandemic as well as those bringing joy and support to people near and far. As the semester comes to a close for many colleges, and with the remainder to follow soon, we have decided to wrap up our series with this as our last post. We hope that you have both benefitted from and enjoyed the posts. Moving forward, we will continue to bring you insightful information about the college search process. We hope you’ll check in and of course, please let us know if you have questions and/or would like us to write about anything in particular. Be sure to mark Sunday, June 21st on your calendar for our webinar with College Essay Solutions. We will post the time and additional information here and on our Facebook page at the beginning of June. We hope that you all stay healthy and safe as states begin to reopen and we all begin our “new normal.”
News and Updates
College Students Would Attend Class in Fall Even Without A Vaccine
According to a poll conducted by College Reaction, 65% of 835 college students polled said they would attend in-person classes if their colleges were to reopen in the fall even if no vaccine were available. As summarized in an article written by Neal Rothschild at Axios, the findings suggest that even when faced with the prospect of packed-in lecture halls without a vaccine, most students want to get back to their classes and have an actual college experience, not a virtual one. You can read the full Axios article to learn more about why this information matters and what this could mean for colleges and how they think about moving forward.
Federal Student Loan Rates Will Be Lower Than Ever
Both undergraduates and graduates who will be taking out federal student loans to help finance their education during the 2020-2021 school year will benefit from historically low interest rates. As reported by CNN, “undergraduates can expect a 2.75% interest rate on a Federal Direct Stafford loan this academic year, down from 4.53% during the past school year. Federal graduate loans will have a 4.3% rate, down from 6.08%, and federal PLUS loans (for graduate and parent borrowers) will be at 5.3%, down from 7.08%.” What does this translate to? An undergraduate student with a $10,000 loan for example, will save about $1,000 over the duration of the loan. This CNN article provides additional details about the loans and their impact.
Cool Things Students and Communities are Doing in the Meantime
Congratulations to the Class of 2020! We decided to delay our post for a few days so we could share with you some of the many unique and wonderful ways that students, parents and the colleges themselves have chosen to celebrate the commencements for this year’s class of graduates. We know how hard it has been for high schoolers, undergraduates and grad students alike to not have traditional graduation ceremonies, but we admire how they have pushed through their disappointment, and we hope that they know how proud everyone is of their accomplishments!
Student’s Life-Size Cutout Stands In For Purdue University President at Home Graduation and Photos on Campus
Laura DiPietro, a spring 2020 grad at Purdue University, found a unique way to shake the university president’s hand despite the cancellation of commencement. She sent an email to Mitch Daniels, Purdue University President, asking if he could send her a photo of himself, so she could make a cardboard cutout of him that she and her roommates could use for a home graduation. He said yes! He sent a photo in commencement attire with his hand out, ready to shake a student’s hand. DiPietro then made a life-size cutout, which she took with her across campus when taking graduation photos at various landmarks. Congrats, Laura!
Dallas Baptist University Organizes Commencement Parade for 2020 Seniors
Staff and faculty at Dallas Baptist University found a unique way to honor their 2020 graduates, despite the cancellation of this year’s commencement. Last Friday morning, they lined the streets and cheered on the graduates as more than 600 cars with the graduates drove through the campus. Their names were read as they passed the graduation platform and each student received their diploma at the end. Congrats, DBU grads!
Berkeley Becomes “Blockeley” for Virtual Graduation
A team of 100 dedicated UC Berkeley students built a virtual “Blockeley University” in the Minecraft Video game, which graduates then “attended” this past Saturday. This virtual commencement was complete with remarks by Chancellor Carol Christ, the conferring of degrees and flying of mortarboards. Congrats to both Berkeley and Blockeley grads!
Dad Builds Graduation Stage for Daughter in Driveway
Like so many other college graduates, Gabrielle Pierce was disappointed about not being able to attend commencement; she was supposed to walk across the stage to receive her diploma at Xavier University. Despite the cancellation, her dad was determined to have her walk across a stage—so he built her one—in the driveway of their house. Memphis television station Fox 13 reported that Burson told Gabrielle, ““After all those years, you’re going to walk across somebody’s stage if I have to build you one myself.” So he did! The ceremony was complete with a program and presenters and was attended by family as neighbors cheered her on from the street. Congrats, Gabrielle!
The Home Front
Over the past couple of days, we’ve had some new visitors to our pond—four tiny ducklings out swimming with their parents and then today, along with torrential rain and strong thunderstorms, we welcomed a family of four river otters frolicking and searching for fish.
Sunday was our first family outing since we all began sheltering together in mid-March. It was perfect—we didn’t even have to worry about social distancing! We enjoyed Lion Country Safari’s drive thru animal adventure, viewing up close lion cubs, wildebeests, water buffalo and more, including my favorites, the baby rhinos! We even had a slight delay, while an ostrich pecked at our car window!