Will Colleges Open This Fall?

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every aspect of American life, including higher education. As a result, many are wondering what college life will look like this fall. Will the Ivy League and other colleges be open for business as usual in the fall?

Most colleges and universities have painted optimistic pictures about reopening, but the devil is in the details

At the moment, no one quite knows. However, even though most colleges, including the Ivy League universities, have not made final decisions about their fall plans, some have started to send out smoke signals, and these give us a sense of what college life might look like this fall.

For example, in The Daily Pennsylvanian, Komal Patel reports that the University of Pennsylvania is considering a combination of virtual and in-person classes for the upcoming fall semester. 

Brown University President Christina Paxson asserts that Brown will be open in the fall.  She has not, however, said anything about just how Brown will reopen. All virtual? All in-person? A combination of both?

President Martha Pollack of Cornell University reports that Cornell has created planning committees to consider reopening options. 


Dartmouth University Provost Joseph Helble says that “Dartmouth will be open this fall,”  but failed to say whether the fall term would be remote or a fully residential term.

According to provost Alan M. Garber, Harvard University will open in the fall, but it is not certain whether classes will be held on campus or virtually… That said, Harvard Medical School has already decided that its first-year students will start remotely in the fall.

Princeton University is exploring a variety of options regarding the fall 2020 semester. 

Peter Salovey, Yale University’s president, wrote that a decision about the fall will be announced no later than early July. 

Columbia University’s president, Lee C. Bollinger has written that Columbia will go forward in the fall,  but admitted that the form the fall term might take is, as yet, uncertain.

If all this makes you feel uncertain, know that you’re in good company. Basically, colleges and universities simply don’t know what to do about fall openings. On the other hand, some universities have already announced decisions. For example, the country’s largest public state university system, Cal State, has already made the decision to go almost completely remote in the fall. On almost the same day as this was announced, the University of Georgia announced plans for in-person classes this fall. 


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What we see here is that college reopening plans are likely to be different from campus to campus and will most likely be determined by a range of factors including epidemiological and economic.

We promise to keep you posted!

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Dr. Osborn works with students from all over the world via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, phone, and Google docs to help them reach their independent, college, and graduate school goals. Through a personal, one-on-one approach, Dr. Osborn creates an individualized curriculum for each student based on the student’s strengths, passions, and college aspirations. Her holistic approach helps students perform well in school and win admission to the Ivy League and other competitive colleges.  

About The Author
Susan Osborn, Ph.D., has spent 30 years in higher education, in admissions at Vassar College, in the English department and Writing Program at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor. Dr. Osborn is also an award-winning writer and scholar and she brings both her education smarts and her writing smarts to every student relationship.

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