December 1, 2020
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Choosing colleges during a worldwide pandemic: A look at the Class of 2024

By Lara Becker
Managing Editor

When Julie Weinstein first set foot on the College’s campus as a prospective student, an overcast of chilling rain loomed in the distance. It was the beginning of her junior year of high school, otherwise known as the time to start cycling through options for higher education.

Regardless, the weather didn’t stop her from getting a warm first impression –– one that she wanted to last for the next four years.

“I toured on a rainy day and even then I thought that it was one of the prettiest campuses. I loved the size of the campus as well as the downtown area,” said Weinstein, an incoming secondary history and special education dual major. 

As the College suspended the end of the spring semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, so too were activities that would welcome incoming students, such as orientations, Lions Day Open Houses and Accepted Students Day. 

Although orientations, Lions Day Open Houses and Accepted Students Days were cancelled in person, it didn’t stop the Class of 2024 from choosing the College (Instagram).

How, then, without these hallmarks, could students like Weinstein and her peers be sure that they made the right choice? How were these students able to take the leap to commit without a proper welcome?

Similar to Weinstein, it was clear to Rianna Cordeiro that her feelings about the College were love at first sight. 

“I loved the fact that it was the perfect size … small class sizes and a campus big enough for a lively campus life, but small enough to call home,” said Cordeiro, the anticipated early childhood English and special education dual major. 

Aside from the College’s physical atmosphere, students pointed out other advantages in committing. Upcoming biology major Ian Gorsen chose the College for the community and size of the student population more so than the campus’ size and layout.

The Cherry Hill native was first introduced to the College through summer wrestling camps on campus, where he became accustomed to the amical environment. Although he said he was excited for another chance to be shown around, Gorsen was certain of his choice early on. 

Other students felt similarly on the topic, such as incoming health and exercise science major Yousuf Cheema, who knew that he was going to attend the College right after graduating high school. 

“While it would’ve been nice to go to on-campus events, I had already done research on TCNJ,” he said. “I had initially selected this school as my early decision and was prepared to go regardless of the situation at hand.”

The College’s Class of 2024 is eager to experience the Lions’ pride for themselves, now that they have attended their first week of classes. To remedy the difficult, virtual experience, the College is looking toward online platforms to welcome the newest students. 

Platforms such as Zoom, Instagram and an online Accepted Students Day festivities were designed to involve these students during their end-of-year high school celebrations.

These events were planned to help students through their transitions, as they prepared for even more changes now with virtual learning.

“Leaving behind the bond I had with my high school friends will always be tough for me, but the friends I am making though social media at TCNJ makes it much easier,” Cheema said.

Even through hard times and defining life moments of endings and beginnings, these students are certain that the College is where they want life to take them next.

“From the stellar academics to the beautiful campus, it was an opportunity I could not pass up,” Weinstein said. “I want to be a teacher, so I want to have a degree that I can confidently show people.”

It wasn’t all that they had hoped for at the end of their high school careers, but these students are ready to look to the future one that they’re certain will happen, rain or shine.

“I knew that even without having a traditional Accepted Students Day that TCNJ would be the place for me,” Weinstein said. “I’m so excited to spend the next four years at my new home.”

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