Everything Equal

High school juniors and sophomores looking beyond high school are planning for college or other paths while focusing on their academics and continued personal development. Seniors are finalizing offers, comparing financial aid award letters, and discussing the next steps at the kitchen table. Questions are being answered with visits to the guidance office, attending an accepted student day invitation, and speaking with former students now in attendance. Maybe the path after high school is instead moving into a skilled professional position or pursuing an Associates’s degree or serving our country. The process of elimination is in full swing.

[Insert the sound of screeching tires}

COVID-19 – Now we’re pivoting!

Normalcy may be out the door; however, sticking to the plan should still be the PLAN. Yes, adjusts are now required; the norm is no longer the status quo.  Changes and modifications are the new norms, but sticking with the script should be the climate for every household.  Normalcy will return with a few twists.  On-line and on-campus experience may split the interest scale. More students won’t feel pressured to go just to go, and becoming a skilled professional will again be applauded.

With a Plan in hand, college or not, students and their parents will be able to navigate the current emotional and personal challenges. The key will be how we adapt and seek clarity through the nose. While bobbing and weaving, the key will be for students and their parents to make their modifications but remain on track by executing their plan.

Everyone Needs a Plan

Know YOU’RE Criteria:  Distance, size, location, athletics, performing arts, courses, and affordability are just a few of the want and offers that remain constant when a student builds their college list. Students need to stay committed to their needs and wants in the early stage and when conducting that final review before committing.

Register Your Interest: Visiting a college or university website and drilling down to the Admissions page allows a student to register, acknowledging one’s interest in the specific school.  Welcoming information and other communications will follow. Students can inquire about particular areas of the campus, academics, and student life. You’re now part of the college’s database, step one of showing your interest.

Recordkeeping: Create a way of recording and retaining information: emails, e-viewbooks, contact information, and other documentation from schools under consideration.  When researching a school virtually, keep notes, and maintain them by the school.  As one moves through the process of elimination, one cannot rely on memory!

Your School Counselor: Work with your School Counselor. Today due to the COVID-19 concerns were all at home. So is your School Counselor. Now that you are at home navigating either the beginning, midpoint, or end of your college search, reaching out to your Counselor for assistance is vital. They can provide insights on schools, locate a former student who is enrolled, and generate all to critical documents that are part of the application process.

Use the Eyes of an Insiders: Gaining hands-on feedback from individuals who are attending or are recent graduates is a great way to learn about a school. Former high school classmates, friends, relatives, and alumni are a great source to learn college back story. Don’t know someone, check in with your School Counselor or Admissions Office.

What’s Changed?

Campus Visits & College Fairs: For the time being, Informational Tours, Accepted Students Day, local and regional college fairs are all on hold. The stay home, 6FT of social distancing, and the critical need to protect everyone’s health, the school needed to cancel all events on campus. They’ll be back, but for the time being, virtual is the new tool. Virtual Tours – Webinars – Facetime

Virtual Tours: While nothing can replace walking across the quad, peeking into a classroom or dorm, or sampling the latest culinary delights, technology can be the next best friend. Navigating to a school’s website or through one of a few different third-party providers, students can investigate college options.

 On-Demand Streaming- Along with virtual tours, colleges and universities are offering streaming video, live and taped webinars, and other events. Check their websites for events and schedules.

 Facetime: Chatting, answering questions, and providing specific insights to campuses is available to prospective and accepted students. Students and parents can speak with a current student, Admissions Counselors, Coaches at designated times, or on-demand.

Meeting College Representatives: With the closure of college campuses around the country, Admissions Counselors, Coaches, Performing Arts Advisers, and Faculty are all working remotely. Getting to know these individuals should not be a barrier during these times. They’re just an email and text away! Admissions Representatives who frequently visit high schools and attend college fairs are not traveling. But, they are working to build the next two enrollment classes. So are those looking to field the next team of student-athletes, dancers, and performers? If the contact information is not known, searching a school website or contacting the high school should produce their name and info. Getting to College Representatives are essential to building relationships and communicating why you are the top candidate to accept, this year or next.

 With or Without COVID-19

Where I’m Applying: When it is all said and done, selecting a college or university to attend is a personal choice. A choice based on multiple factors, including educational training and personal development. An institution whose internal structure supports a student’s emotional wellbeing and leads to a career outcome. Through the process of elimination, a student’s final list of choices, schools I want to apply to fall into three categories where the average student is:

  • Above MY Profile – I’d be psyched to get in!
  • Right ON MY Profile –perfect match, and
  • I’m Above the Profile –”I’m the big fish in their small pond!”

 Let’s Not Forget Affordability – Colleges are not free. Attending an institution of my choice is an investment. Today, yes, it is troubling to consider how to finance a college education; however, even in prosperous times, affordability must be a critical consideration. Getting in is one part; paying the bill throughout four-years must is equally essential and should not be ignored while narrowing the list!!

Explore| Evaluate| Refine| Select –  Don’t Let COVID-19 Change the Process; Continue to Work Your Plan