Incoming class faces uncertainty with extended campus closure, virtual transition

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Hundreds of new K-State students gathered in Bramlage Coliseum on Aug. 19, 2018, for the new student convocation. (Archive Photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

As Kansas State continues to revise its ongoing operation plans in order to comply with statewide guidelines associated with stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus, incoming freshmen are left wondering what their first semester in college might look like.

Virtual orientation

On April 13, students admitted to K-State for the fall semester received an email from vice provost for enrollment management Karen Goos about some changes made to the summer schedule.

At this point, orientation and enrollment dates scheduled for June have already been relegated to online-only formats. On Wednesday, K-State announced all scheduled in person gatherings should be done remotely through the end of July.

Byron Williams, interim director of New Student Services, said the virtual orientation will be similar to the alternative visits K-State has already put into place. To make up for the shortfall, Williams said students can expect extra engagement activities during the first week of classes in the fall.

Financials and tuition

Other concerns for incoming students might be how they’re going to pay for tuition and other fees associated with attending a university.

“Students that were able to afford K-State two months ago might be dealing with a job loss, or a serious decrease in family income,” Goos said. “Our financial aid department will be evaluating these students’ FAFSAs to see if they could get more aid from the government.”

One thing that won’t change is scholarships, Williams said.

“We are going to honor all scholarship and admissions decision made for the incoming class of 2020,” Williams said. “The same goes for transfer students.”

Future freshman classes

High school seniors graduating in the class of 2020 likely won’t be affected by cancelled ACT testing dates, but incoming classes in the future might be. Goos said there are likely to be extra testing dates added to the fall schedule, but that could still hurt future students.

“We adhere to the Qualified Admissions standards that are set by the Kansas Board of Regents,” Goos said. “We have already been in the works with KBOR to change this policy, which would make the test optional for students.”

Although the admissions criteria won’t change without approval by the Kansas Board of Regents, the university may alter the requirements for financial aid.

“We might be relaxing the timeline where [test scores] need to be submitted for scholarships,” Goos said. “We don’t want students to feel punished for things out of their control.”

That being said, out-of-state students could face different challenges.

“One thing we have to understand from a university perspective is that it’s not just what’s happening in our city or state that matters,” Williams said. “We’re bringing students in from all over the world and country, so there’s a lot of factors that affect our decisions in moving forward.”

Despite all of the uncertainty in the world right now, Williams said he believes the #KStateStrong message is as important as ever.

“No matter how much the plans change, we want to give our new students a quality transition to the university,” Williams said. “They’re ‘K-Staters’ now, and our focus is to give them the best college experience.”

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