It’s a weird time we are living in and uncertainty is very heavy in the air. Instead of panicking about what we cannot change, I’m here to help you along the college path. One thing I want to heavily stress before we get into any of the steps is to make sure you have a plan in place. It does not have to be perfect or even solid, you just have to start making a plan to organize college options and opportunities. Even though the plan might shift, you still have a guideline to make sure you aren’t missing anything and can stay ahead of the curve. A good place to start is to get a list of 10-30 colleges you might be interested in and write down what the admissions requirements are for each. That way you know if any requirements change and can pivot to avoid a lost opportunity.
Now let’s get into the other recommendations…..
- Use this downtime wisely
This is always going to be sound advice when it comes to college prep however, now more than ever. You must take this downtime seriously. Many colleges and universities are giving exemptions for admissions that they otherwise would never give. Everything is still so uncertain and students, teachers, and universities alike are all scrambling. Instead of letting overwhelm and fear get in your way, choose to use this time to:
- Get into a formal test prep program to focus on increasing your scores
- Put together an admission and scholarship spreadsheet that documents all of your current opportunities and what opportunities are still available to you if you raise your test scores.
- Consider learning supplements if you are struggling in a particular area in school
- Take courses through open universities (Harvard, MIT, Yale, etc) because all have classes online available for free. You can take an intro class of a major you might be interested in pursuing. This also might be a good introduction to distance learning.
- Volunteering is still a crucial part of the college application process. Even though you cannot volunteer in person during this time, there are opportunities online for volunteer work now. Make sure you are not neglecting that portion of your application just because we are in quarantine. Find alternative options and get creative so you don’t lose out. Here is a place to start!
- Don’t make assumptions! Things are subject to change.
The one thing we know is that everything is changing and nothing is known. It’s important to be fluid at this time. If you are planning on starting college in the fall, make sure you are comfortable with distance learning. If you are still in high school but preparing your college strategy right now, make sure you are looking at creative ways to package yourself on your applications given the circumstances. Universities are still trying to figure out what they should be doing. We do not know how long this will be going on for.
Also, make sure you are flexible in your college expectations. Universities have had to be flexible as well. No one can predict what is going to happen so “outside the box” thinking is going to be your strongest asset. Make sure you are not resisting the change. Settle into this new normal and push through the inevitable obstacles!
Arm yourself with the most up-to-date information by checking the universities websites, social media pages, or setting a Google alerts for any new changes the colleges decides to release. It is going to be very important to be current on any and all changes each university is laying out.
- Consider pivoting based on campus changes
Again, the theme of this article is we are living in a VERY uncertain time. Social distancing, masks, and distance learning are all going to make “life on campus” as we once knew it much different. This is an important time to consider what is really important and why you are choosing to go to college in the first place. Is it because you are looking for the “traditional college experience” with large sporting events, Greek life, and living in a campus dorm? One or all of these experiences might not be possible for a year, maybe more. Considering your “why” for college is going to be an important one.
Your college budget might also look very different due to COVID-19. Maybe your family is going through financial hardships due to one or both incomes being reduced or lost. Maybe the scholarship you were hoping for is now out of reach because you were not able to retake your SAT or ACT for a higher score. Whatever the situation, finances might be looking different right now. Here is our advice. Take a look at what is happening at the university you are choosing to attend. If they are only offering distance learning for the next year, consider taking a Gap year OR pull out entirely, go to a community college and take the same classes for a fraction of the cost. If you aren’t going to be allowed on campus, you will not be able to experience the college’s resources. Do you really want to pay a premium for that? So many things for you to consider.
To sum up the article, I’ve given you 3 strategies on how to handle college admissions during COVID-19. First, you are going to want to take this downtime with your high school studies seriously and put good use to it. Make sure you are prioritizing your test prep, take remote online courses through big universities like Harvard and MIT, and make sure you are keeping track of your college goals with a spreadsheet to make it easier to organize changes when they come up. Secondly, be flexible with your college options because universities can’t commit to anything right now. Stay up-to-date with the universities on your spreadsheet through google alerts and following them on their social media platforms. Be the first to know if you need to adjust quickly to stay ahead and not lose out on opportunities. Lastly, get honest about your college options right now and assess if going to a 4 year university right now is the best choice for you and your family. Colleges are working off of state and CDC guidelines to make sure their staff and student body remains safe. Recognize that college life might not be what you anticipated and plan accordingly. Weigh out budget options and new admissions standards to see what the best course of action is going to be.
I hope this information was helpful and I will continue to keep you updated with the information I’m providing my clients as well. Every case is unique and you must look at all of the options before making the best decision for your family. If you have any questions I can help address, please feel free to book a free meeting with one of my staff members to walk you through some options. We are here to help!