Gabriella Babskiy got into her first choice for college, Penn State. But it's not where she is enrolling.

"I chose John Jay because I knew the campus and I heard a lot of great things about it, and even though it wasn’t on the top of my list, I knew it was the safest option,” Gabriella said.

What You Need To Know

  • Many students say they've decided to stay closer to home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Some were worried they wouldn't be able to live on campus or learn in person this fall.

  • CUNY say it's too early to tell if enrollment will increase.

While the City University of New York (CUNY) says it's too early to know if enrollment will be up at its colleges and universities next fall, NY1 interviews with high school seniors about their plans for the future found many deciding to stay nearby because of the coronavirus crisis.

There was the Bronx valedictorian who opted for City College:

“I feel like it’s better to stay closer at home to make sure that my family is doing well, so if there’s ever an emergency that pops up I could just bounce back to my family,”  Brandon Aquino, a senior at International Leadership Charter High School said.

And the Brooklyn transfer school student who plans to study at LaGuardia Community College.

"I actually wanted to go to Delaware State and it was like Shereese, are you really going to get to go there because of what's going on? So I was like let me just stay close to home,” said Shereese David-Phillip, a senior at Research and Service High School.

These practical decisions come at a time when it can feel risky to commit to expensive out-of-state or private colleges without guarantees that students will be able to live on campus or attend in person.

"The four-year private colleges are in a difficult situation, and many of those students will be attending public colleges and universities closer to home,” said David Bloomfield, education professor with the CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn College.

That was part of Gabriella's thinking in choosing John Jay, a CUNY school where she plans to study forensic science.

"I think for mental stability and emotional stability to know I made the right decision for myself in order to stay home and have this sort of certainty, and at least I know I’ll be getting an education that is financially smart,” she said.

For this senior at Leaders High School, the idea of moving away from her Brooklyn home for school went from exciting to worrisome in the age of a pandemic.

"It definitely has impacted my ideas on like my living situations so I just wanted to make the best decision that I know would put me at ease and at least put my family at ease as well,” she said.