105°F
weather icon Clear

Local grads bound for elite schools unsure if classes will be online

Updated May 23, 2020 - 5:11 pm

From the moment Dakyung “Demi” Lee set foot on the Yale University campus at age 10, she knew she’d found her dream school. When it came time to apply for colleges, Lee sent in just one application: to the early admission program at Yale.

Now accepted, she’s waiting alongside a group of her Coronado High School peers to hear how some of the top schools in the country will proceed with the fall semester in the midst of a global pandemic — whether they’ll need to make cross-country moves over the summer, or take classes from the likes of Yale and Harvard at home.

Lee said that though she hopes to be on campus, she’s determined to attend Yale this fall no matter what format her classes take. A 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholar and the recipient of a $100,000 Rogers Foundation scholarship, Lee also said the COVID-19 pandemic has also not dissuaded her from pursuing a future medical career.

“If anything, it’s strengthened my resolve,” Lee said. “It’s encouraged me even more because If I can do my small part to save lives, it’s worth it.”

Determined scholars

It’s a rare accomplishment for a group of students from one high school to be headed to elite schools, said Brandon Kim, executive director of the tutoring company Excel Academy, where the Coronado students attended classes. He added that with college admissions requirements changing almost every week, there is some anxiety among prospective students about applications, but those who have accepted offers are determined to succeed.

“They’re all very proactive in what they want to achieve,” he said.

Admissions counselor Casey Near of Collegewise said the students’ resolve is echoed nationwide, as even students who were reluctant to accept online classes in the fall have come around to the idea.

“There was a life cycle of grief where students were thinking and hoping they could defer or take a gap year or work or travel,” she said. “I think they’re realizing there’s nothing cool around the corner. Even those who initially said they wouldn’t go to online school are thinking maybe it’s the best option.”

Near said she expects schools to announce their plans for the fall in the next three weeks, whether that will mean reopening their campuses, moving online or some combination of the two options, with some of the more flexible arrangements coming from small liberal arts colleges that need to attract students.

“Ultimately it’s not the schools with large endowments that are getting creative,” she said.

Princeton-bound Megan King, a tennis star at Coronado as well as a National Merit semifinalist and an AP Scholar with Distinction, said that she might have considered a gap year had she been able to predict that a pandemic would disrupt her last quarter of high school, particularly in order to do volunteer work through the university. But the future mechanical engineering major added that nothing would compare to being on campus at a school she has wanted to attend since childhood.

“I’d say it’s very important to me to be on campus for the community and the experience,” she said.

Few nationwide deferring college

A survey of students from higher education marketing company Carnegie Dartlet also found that only 2 percent of students have decided to defer their college careers because of the pandemic, while 42 percent said in May that they will not delay under any circumstances — up from 34 percent who said so in March.

Katie Lim, bound for Harvard en route to her dream of being a policy analyst, a human rights attorney and later, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, said she’d be reluctant to delay the first steps of that career.

Lim said that though this last unusual quarter of high school saw its challenges — like when one of her online AP tests failed to submit — she felt her time at Coronado High helped prepare her for the future. Lim, the Nevada chair for the High School Democrats of America, was also accepted to Stanford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Emory and Georgetown, among others.

“It was really supportive,” she said of the Henderson school. “The teachers and staff were the best.”

Renato Nicolas Fajardo said Stanford University was always his top choice for college in part because it would allow him to stay close to his family. If the school moves to online classes for the fall, he said he would take advantage of the format and stay home.

“I really can’t wait to be there with the Stanford community,” the future medical student said. “But I’ll also have to weigh my safety and health.”

For students applying to college this fall, Fajardo said he understands the stress but encourages them to persevere.

“When you start applying for college, you think you have to fit a mold,” he said. “But if you stay true to yourself, the right college will find you.”

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at 702-383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
A motorist driving recklessly lost control of their vehicle and smashed into a house
Las Vegas police said a motorist driving recklessly lost control of their vehicle, which then smashed into a house at 401 South Torrey Pines Drive. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Las Vegas police briefing on shooting during Black Lives Matter protest
Sheriff Joe Lombardo briefs the media on shootings during the Black Lives Matter protest that left one man dead and a Metro officer in critical condition on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Areas of Red Rock Canyon reopen - Video
The BLM Southern Nevada District reopened access to areas of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on June 1, 2020, including; Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive, Red Rock Overlook, Late Night Trailhead, Red Spring Boardwalk, Calico Basin and Kraft Mountain Trailheads. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rebel store looted
The manager of a Rebel gas station talks about looting at the Tropicana and Koval store over the weekend. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fremont Street Experience is counting down to reopening - Video
A countdown clock is running for the reopening of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, May 29, 2020. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossFit Apollo reopens after COVID-19 shutdown - Video
CrossFit Apollo gym co-owner and a member talk about their first day back, Friday, May 29, 2020, after gyms and fitness centers were closed during the coronavirus shutdown. (Glenn Puit and Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gym owner Rob Martinez talks about reopening.
Rob Martinez, owner of The Gym Las Vegas, talks about reopening his gym under Phase Two of Nevada's reopening plan. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas gyms reopen.
Desiree Ford talks about getting back to the gym after Nevada moves into Phase Two of its reopening plan. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossFit gym reopens
Chad Cole, co-owner of CrossFit Apollo, talks about the reopening of his gym as Nevada moves into Phase Two. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Train carrying decommissioned nuclear reactor passes through Las Vegas - VIDEO
The train carrying a decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel from Southern California is passing through Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MountainView Hospital protest
Nurses at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas hold a protest Thursday morning over what they say are planned layoffs and pay cuts by the hospital’s owner, HCA Healthcare. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 testing site moves to UNLV Tropicana parking garage - Video
New Clark County COVID-19 testing site at UNLV Tropicana Avenue parking garage opens Wednesday and includes pediatric and walk-up testing. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist killed in crash in southwest Las Vegas - Video
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka confirmed a motorcyclist was killed in a crash with another vehicle at Durango Drive and the 215 Beltway just before 9 a.m., Monday, May 25, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas man runs 100-mile marathon for veterans on Memorial Day - Video
Pete Madredes ran a 100-mile marathon at Exploration Peak Park in Las Vegas to raise money for Mission 22, a nonprofit that supports veterans with mental illness. He started Sunday morning, May 24, and ended Memorial Day morning. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum reopens after coronavirus shutdown - Video
The Neon Museum reopened Friday night, May 22, after it shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working at home with kids
Educators Jessica Houchins and Christopher Houchins discuss their work life merged with their parenting life during quarantine, at their home in Henderson on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
6.5 earthquake in western Nevada - Video
A 6.5-magnitude earthquake damaged U.S. Highway 95, which was closed west of Tonopah near Coaldale, on Friday, May 15, 2020. (Nye County Sheriff's Department)
Southern Nevada Health District discusses contact tracing
Devin Raman, senior disease investigator at SNHD, explains how contact tracing works, noting how local clusters of disease are tracked.
Cowabunga Bay Prepares For Patrons
The management and staff at Cowabunga Bay in hopes of opening soon are implementing coronavirus safety measures to ensure patrons are happy and safe.
Pickleball courts coming to Sunset Park - Video
Clark County officials broke ground Tuesday on a championship pickleball tournament complex at Sunset Park, expected to open by next spring. (Clark County)
Great-grandmother meets great-granddaughter through window
A global pandemic couldn't keep June Watkins from meeting her 1-month-old great-granddaughter, even if it had to be through a window. Christie Jensen, the baby's mother, brought together four generations of women with her mother, DeeDee Jensen, when they brought the baby to meet Watkins for the first time ahead of Mother's Day on Sunday.
Firefighters deliver free pizza to coronavirus testers - VIDEO
The Professional Firefighters of Nevada delivered free pizza and soft drinks to Nevada National Guard members and health care workers who are performing COVID-19 testing at the UNLV School of Medicine. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate fatal crash - VIDEO
One person died at University Medical Center after a two-vehicle crash at West Russell and South Fort Apache roads, Thursday morning, May 7. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southern Nevada Health District COVID-19 update
Southern Nevada Health District staff conduct a video briefing to provide updates about the public health agency’s COVID-19 response in Clark County.
Greg Zanis, the cross maker, has died - VIDEO
Greg Zanis was the Illinois carpenter who built and erected the 58 simple white crosses in the shadow of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that turned into a focal point for a city’s grief after the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in 2017. He died on Monday, May 4, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seniors, people with disabilities getting special shopping hour at Costco - VIDEO
Costco will implement new rules Monday that, in addition to requiring face masks, will allow seniors 60 and older to shop from 9-10 a.m. weekdays. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government protest
Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government protest. (Julie Wootton-Greener/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Desert Oasis students celebrate senior prom with parade - VIDEO
Desert Oasis High School’s senior prom was supposed to be held Saturday, but it was canceled when schools statewide were closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson winery reacts to Sisolak's economic plan - VIDEO
Governor Sisolak's reopening plan is easier said than done for the only winery in Clark County. Grape Expectations is trying to figure out how to open up shop when they are three businesses in one. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Locals rush to reopened tennis courts
Daniel Nunez and Sarah Germain made immediate plans to go to their local tennis court, Darling Tennis Center, when they received an email that the facility would open on May 1.
Allegiant Air employees deliver snacks and drinks to food pantry - VIDEO
Allegiant Air donated food items to the Vegas Community Pantry in Las Vegas. The snack and drinks are commissary items that Allegiant planned to serve to passengers who were flying to Las Vegas for March Madness. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Health care workers protest over unsafe working conditions - VIDEO
Healthcare workers from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) gather at Southern Hills Hospital to protest unsafe working conditions at Las Vegas HCA-affiliated hospitals and demand that OSHA intervene. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neighborhood rallies behind grad amid the coronavirus lockdown
Riley Lynn Thacker's mom put a sign in their yard to congratulate her daughter completing her senior year and neighbors followed suit. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST