High school seniors struggling with decision to defer from colleges, universities

NEW YORK (WABC) -- High school seniors across our area are trying to decide whether to defer admission to their respective colleges or universities for the fall due to uncertainty about whether campuses will be open.

Peri Friedman, of the Upper West Side, has to decide in four weeks whether she will submit a deferment application to Syracuse University. The application is due June 15.

"I don't want to defer and take a gap year because that's not something super normal - that's not the traditional college experience," she said. "But now, it's like, there will no longer be a traditional college experience."

Peri's mother, Debbie Friedman, said Peri's twin sister has already decided to defer from New York University for the fall.

Friedman is hoping because Syracuse is located upstate the campus is more likely to open in September.

"My preference is that she go," Friedman said of her daughter's decision. "She really wants to and she deserves it and she's worked for this. We just want to make sure if she does that she can be successful."

Jennifer Turano, who is a college counselor with Collegewise, said many of her students are struggling with the decision about whether to defer.

"Most of my students are depositing right now. They're not paying the bill quite yet," she told Eyewitness News.

Just this week, officials with the California State University system announced classes this fall at all 23 of its campuses will be held online. On Thursday, the deans of Harvard Medical School said classes in the fall for incoming medical, dental and graduate students will be held remotely.

"We hope to have all our students back on campus by January, but we are mindful of the many unknowns and will update our projections as new information becomes available," the deans said in an online message.
Officials at Hofstra University are hoping to have a normal fall semester.

"We plan to and hope to resume classes in the fall, but we will offer online classes or classes through some other method if that becomes necessary," said Melissa Connolly, Hofstra's Vice-President for University Relations.

Connolly said the university has a task force with Northwell Health which is researching health and safety protocols for the fall.

Turano said if students are considering deferment, they need to ask college or university administrators a series of questions including the school's gap year, financial aid and, if they're considering going to a more affordable, local college for right now, the school's transfer credit policy.

"Typically what has happened in the past is if you accumulate a lot of credits then you're considered a transfer student. Your financial aid that they've already guaranteed you, may not be available," Turano said.

Turano advised students who may be considering a gap year to have a plan.

"Make sure you know what you're going to do with that time. Make sure you're not just running away from the unknown," she said.

Peri said she is thinking about taking a gap year, but doesn't know what she would do during the time off. "If I wanted to go and do like a normal gap year program, those aren't happening anymore. So it's very hard to be like, what am I going to do instead of going to college?" she said.
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