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Dear Class of 2020 Students and Families,
You have been in my thoughts over the past week as our region of the country has been hit hard with the coronavirus. I hope you are healthy and staying safe at home amidst the Covid-19 crisis. These are challenging times as you navigate various aspects of your senior year that just one month ago seemed hard to fathom.
I know you never expected to be out of school, away from your friends, completing coursework online, preparing for AP testing online, foregoing your usual activities including sports, clubs, service, and work… Even more so, foregoing your social life at a time when you envisioned the homestretch of a more relaxed senior life style. But here’s the thing- there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, it’s about maintaining your health and keeping your parents, grandparents, extended family and friends healthy, too. All else will fall in place.
In my 15 years of working as an educational consultant with over 4,000 clients, I have witnessed several past disruptions to the college journey experienced by families- individual crises as opposed to those now felt jointly by such large numbers. Yet ultimately, regardless of the scope of the crisis, everything seems to work out for the best because of the team of loved ones and professionals that surround you- those looking out for your future- parents, teachers, mentors, college admissions staff, coaches and so many more.
With that being said, I want you to know that I am keeping on top of all of the consequences of this crisis as it relates to the final steps in your college journey. Here are some reminders and updates:
- Final College “Visits” and Admissions Communication
Good luck to you as you await your final college responses. For those of you that will need to evaluate campuses further, it’s important to note that numerous colleges have closed their doors, possibly for the remainder of the year. However, they are encouraging all sorts of ways for you to get additional information and learn more about the campuses.
Make sure to watch for emails from the admissions offices. Skype or call. Complete the recommended virtual tours, participate in online webinars, look at YouTube videos, reach out to current students on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram- these are all examples of the way colleges are trying to help you determine what’s the best college fit. Take advantage of them and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions that you may have about the college experience at a particular school.
- Final College Decisions- Rating Scale
Forbes author Brennan Barnard wrote an excellent article published last week that recommends that students set up a rating scale when evaluating colleges. He doesn’t advocate a scale of 1-10 but instead a scale of 1-9 to emphasize the point that there is no such thing as one perfect college- no perfect 10. I completely agree! Here’s his advice:
“Colleges and university admission offices have spent the last few months rating your academic potential and personal qualities on their internal scale. Now it is your turn. Develop an approach to rating each school that you are considering based on categories that are important to you. Use a scale of 1 to 9 with 1 being “significantly lacking” and 9 as ”ideal” (for you).
You might ask why not 1 to 10? Because it is important to remember that no one school is a perfect 10. If you can approach your college choice with the realization that there will be aspects that you might not like, but rather as a search for the school where you can have the best experience, then you will not be setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment. After your thorough research and networking, here are some potential categories to rate:
- Affordability (financial aid, additional fees, student debt averages, repayment rates)
- Outcomes (job placement, internships, graduate school acceptance, graduation rates)
- Support (academic accommodations, tutoring, faculty advising, mental health counseling)
- Engagement (research, school spirit, student activism, clubs and activities, academic societies)
- Community Life (location, events, programming, safety, food, belonging)
- Equity (diversity, inclusion, campus policies, level of discourse)
- Gut (a general rating of what your heart is telling you)
- Create your unique categories and build a spreadsheet or list with the aspects of your college experience that are important to you. This will allow you to compare the strengths of each institution and make an informed and personal choice.”
Let me know if you have any questions as you communicate with and research the colleges as well as rate schools on a scale of 1-9, as recommended above by Mr. Barnard.
In terms of when you actually have to make your final decision, I’ve read various articles that talk about the fact that colleges may be extending deposit deadlines from May 1 to later in the spring/early summer. This will give you some more time to think about what’s most important to you.
Remember- you are not going to make a wrong decision- there are so many different factors that go into making your final decision. Be true to yourself and your own intuition. The rating scale helps a lot and don’t minimize a Gut feeling. You own this decision! Your parents, older siblings, cousins, and friends have enjoyed the right to choose the best fit for themselves. Now it’s your turn.
Take advantage of this time to relax and reflect- spend time outdoors, spend time taking care of yourself. Spend time charting your future with a positive, energetic attitude. Stay strong! I’m thinking of you, I care about you and I’m here to help you in any way. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.