Fifty-two local students graduated from Telstar or Gould this Spring. Thirty-six are planning on college in the Fall. Ten in community colleges, 10 in the University of Maine System, 11 out-of-state. The schools are very various. SMCC: how many community colleges, how many colleges, period, have their own beach? Farmington: state university as liberal arts college. White Mountains CC: a great culinary program has obviously influenced the best college cafeteria around.

Big, small, local, distant, there’s something they all share: things won’t be “normal” this Fall. There will be social distancing on campus: whatever you may think, it’s a courtesy to others. Masks will be required in some places and situations. If you reside on campus, you’ll probably be defined by your floor or corridor or suite: small groups well-separated from others will keep possible infection from spreading widely.

Classrooms will hold fewer students safely: contact hours (a newly meaningful term) may be limited so everybody gets a turn. Register for that popular course you really want, as early as you can. An infection upsurge could stop face-to-face classes early: expect to do a lot of work on your own (true of college in any case).

High school probably won’t be your last Zoom class. All kinds of colleges will be encouraging enrolment in non-face-to-face classes. Face-to-face means being there; interacting with others in an encouraging environment. It’s an important part of college; grab it when you can.

In mediated learning: you, your instructor, and fellow students meet onscreen, at home or at school; there’s a class schedule, and encouragement if you’re comfortable with the mode. Some of this is well designed; some will be hurried makeshifts.

Then there’s computer-based learning; the student interacts with the program, with little contact with teachers. It’s often asynchronous: the student works when she chooses. Unfortunately, too many students choose later, and later… It works well for some subjects, and some students.

In Australia, where I worked in distance education for twenty years, we found that when people have a choice they like to mix and match. Go ahead.

David R Jones prefers face-to-face, but is facing up to other modes these days.

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