Should I even be talking to students about college and career right now? Everyone is so stressed out

How and when you support students in the area of college and career will be up to you and the needs of your students. If you conducted a distance learning needs assessment, was College and Career an option? Was there a need at this time or is something else more pressing? You know your students best. If you had a career lesson planned, you can still implement it online via google classroom or a live webinar. Keep in mind that there are rising seniors who may need support from you as they approach college application season. You also have current seniors with important deadlines approaching, these students may not be able to wait to discuss their postsecondary plans.   

How do I find out if a college has changed any of their deadlines for the class of 2020?

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling has created a college tool that allows students and counselors to look up college updates (such as deposit deadlines) in one place. However, students are advised to go directly to the college’s website for the most up-to-date information about deadlines. Students should be encouraged to check their emails and their college student portals for updates.  

What should a student do if their financial circumstances have changed and they already received their award letter?

If a student’s financial circumstances have changed, the student is encouraged to contact the college’s financial aid office to inform them of the change. Most colleges have the flexibility to work with students to make sure that they can afford school. Here are two resources on how to write an appeal letter: Resource 1 and Resource 2

How should I advise my juniors right now?

The landscape of college admissions is rapidly adapting so that Juniors going into their Senior Year will not be penalized for grade change policies, interruptions to standardized testing, and pauses in extracurricular activities. It is important that Juniors add additional comments to their college applications to explain any changes or discrepancies in their academic record or pertaining to their extracurriculars that occurred as a result of the pandemic. Reassure them that they are not alone in this experience.  

Will my students be penalized for the grading practices that my district adopted during this time?

Keep in mind that Colleges and universities across the country are also changing their own grading policies for their students during this time. These are unprecedented times and college admissions will look different for students as it pertains to their academic record for this semester. Admissions teams look for reasons to admit your students, not deny them. A change in grading policy for this semester can be explained on the student’s college application in the additional comments section. If your district institutes a Pass/No Pass (Fail) policy for this semester but the student earned a letter grade of an A (per their percentage in the class), they can certainly mention that in the additional comments section of their application. Through the class of 2024, high schools should provide a statement on the transcript and school profile highlighting the grading practices used during this time.   

Which colleges are now test optional?

Colleges are continuing to update testing policies throughout this time. This is a list of existing schools who are test optional. For the most up to date information regarding testing requirements, students are encouraged to visit the school’s website.  

How can a student still demonstrate interest in a college during this time?

There are many ways in which a student can demonstrate interest online. Students can attend online campus tours, complete an interest form on the school’s website to obtain more information, respond to outreach emails from colleges, connect with colleges through social media (this is a great way for students to start getting a feel for the culture of the school to determine if it is a good social fit), and attend online college admissions events. View this post for details. 

What resources should I provide for my students to stay competitive during this time?

Just as you as counselors are pivoting what you do to support students in an online setting, students should also look for ways to continue chasing their intellectual curiosity. Students should maintain academic rigor during this time, even if your district adjusts its policy to Pass/No Pass (Fail)  Students should plan to take the AP exam if they are currently enrolled in an AP course. If they were part of a school club, encourage them to continue meeting online and finding ways to carry out their mission. Additionally, students can enroll in an online community college course to increase academic rigor and demonstrate an ability to succeed in a post-secondary environment. Another way to explore their interests and remain competitive is to take courses through an open online course provider such as Coursera. These courses are not for credit, but are free, online courses offered by over 100 universities and organizations from all over the world.