What will college look like next year? Georgia State president looks ahead

ATLANTA — Coronavirus has impacted all of our lives, but it has meant huge changes for college students and those getting ready to go to college.

The Georgia State University campus is usually buzzing this time of year with students preparing for graduation. Instead, these days, campus is empty.

Channel 2 Anchor Jovita Moore talked to GSU President Mark Becker about what families can expect this fall.

"Our goal is to be open in the fall, meaning to have campus open to students," Becker said. "We don’t know exactly what the fall’s going to look like yet. It’s just too soon to know."

Becker said the college may explore some options like putting very large classes online.

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“Other courses, particularly the smaller seminars, hands-on courses, like in say health sciences, some laboratories may be in person,” Becker said.

Moore asked Becker if there was the possibility of fewer students returning next year because of financial hardships caused by the pandemic. Becker said that, in fact, GSU has actually seen an increase in the number of confirmed freshmen next year.

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"And we’re continuing to get applications and confirmations at this point," Becker said. "So I think everybody expects us to be up and running."

Last week, the board of regents froze tuition for next year. Students will pay the same from classes as they do now, no matter how they take them.

“The principal costs of running a university are your people,” Becker said. “And whether the faculty are teaching online or they’re teaching face to face, it’s still the same expense. It’s still the cost of delivering it.”

Becker said that what the university is doing now in terms of online education to finish the semester is not the same as the online education it will offer moving ahead. He said the courses students took this year weren’t designed to be taken online.

"For the summer and for the fall, we’re going to be able to deliver is going to be a much different product from what students have got right now, much higher quality," Becker said.

Becker said that no matter what, higher education is not going to shut down -- it just might look a little different for a while.

"If nothing else, this is going to be a freshman year you’re going to be able to tell your kids and grandkids about decades from now, because you’re literally living through a historic moment," Becker said.

Becker said the university will do as much in person as possible but public health and safety are going to be the main priorities.