Location, location, location

Choosing the right college during a pandemic

ADRIAN — In this time of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, one thing is certainly clear — where you are located in the country, or State of Michigan, determines your level of risk for contracting COVID-19.

A Cases by County list on the Michigan COVID-19 Summary page from May 5 listed Wayne County as being the worst location to be with 17,391 cases reported. Oakland (7,522) and Macomb (5,789) counties also had positive cases listed in the thousands and the numbers trickled down from there with Kent County having 1,914, Genesee County 1,668, and Washtenaw County 1,123.

Lenawee County, located approximately 72 miles west of Detroit and 76 miles east of Lansing, had 110 cases and was the 26th county on the state’s COVID-19 list.

Colleges in rural areas, such as Adrian College, located in Adrian, Mich., the center of Lenawee County, are hopeful students and their families will think about those COVID-19 statistics and give smaller institutions additional consideration when selecting a facility for higher education.

Compared to universities located in larger cities, Adrian College is a pretty safe place to be.

Sydney Babcock decided to remain on Adrian College’s campus because her home in the Detroit area had unfortunately been hit hard by COVID-19. There were 1,945 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Wayne County when Babcock graduated magna cum laude from Adrian College on May 3 with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing. Lenawee County had two deaths.

Babcock is from Metro Detroit, Harrison Township, on Lake Saint Clair in Macomb County, one of the hotspots of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There was talk on social media that at some schools people were just getting kicked off campus. I thought that was really crazy,” Babcock said. “You have international students that can’t get home. You have students who may have family at home infected with the coronavirus who cannot go home. So, I think it was really awesome that Adrian College allowed students to stay here on campus.”

Her parents were relieved when she told them she wanted to remain on Adrian’s campus.

“It felt safer here,” she said. “My parents wanted me here. If I did get it [COVID-19], the hospitals are a little cleaner, a little emptier too.”

Lillian Brueckman grew up in Huntington Woods Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. She was raised just two or three miles away from Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

“That hospital is not doing well at all,” Brueckman said the day before graduating summa cum laude from Adrian College with a BBA in Accounting. “So, it’s much safer for me to stay here in Adrian than go home because I’m so close to that. I know a lot of people in my neighborhood are doctors, they work at the hospital, and it was much safer for me to stay here.”

ProMedica Bixby Hospital in Adrian was well-prepared to handle those infected with the disease, and even accepted patients from the Detroit area.

Nira Fowler, a biochemistry student, just completed her sophomore year at Adrian College and stayed in Cargo Hall. She is from Farmington Hills, a suburb of Detroit.

“Oakland County as a whole is a crazy, crazy place to be right now,” she said. “I know a lot of people whose parents had it.”

Fowler said the main reason she stayed on Adrian College’s campus was because she didn’t want to take the chance of infecting her grandmother.

“I live with my grandmother, who is really high risk, and I figured, I don’t know if I have it so I wouldn’t want to risk going home and giving it to her,” she said. 

Fowler was able to communicate regularly with her grandmother and family to keep them informed.

“I didn’t have a single problem with the WiFi on campus,” she said. “My grandmother has an iPhone, so I’d Facetime her to keep up with her.”

Margaret Amory just completed her junior year at Adrian College. The biology major decided to stay on campus and as a resident assistant in Herrick Hall. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration.

“I’m from Delaware, so it’s about 10 or 11 hours away,” Amory said. “I’d have to drive through some pretty rough states to get there, states that have it much worse than Michigan does. I figured it was safer to stay on campus than go off. Also, I have a higher elderly population near where I’m from, so it was safer to stay around here where I’m more secluded.”

Amory said she felt very safe on campus because of all the safety precautions that were taken, especially in Ritchie Marketplace with masks required to enter, and the way they safely served students the food.

“Everybody was staying far enough away from each other. I felt like if I went home  everybody would be too close, and there would be four people living in a household instead of me living on my own,” Amory said.

She is very appreciative that Adrian College allowed her to stay on campus. Her sister was told to leave her institution.

“I had to drive to Chicago to pick up my sister when they kicked her out.” Amory said. “She was given just a two day notice when they told her to go.”

Amory’s parents didn’t love the idea of their daughter remaining so far from home during the crisis, but wanted her to be as safe as possible.

“They do appreciate that I’m staying safe and healthy and that the school has given me the chance to stay here, because they know going home wouldn’t be a better option,” she said.

Amory plans on staying at Adrian College throughout the summer.

Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking has announced the campus will be open this coming fall for traditional in-person classes. For more information or to register with Adrian College for the fall semester, contact the Admissions Office at 1.800.877.2246 or email Joe VanGeison, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment, at jvangeison@adrian.edu.