Picking a College Safely During Covid

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As parents, we witness our children make important decisions as they grow older. One of the most important and influential choices as our children become more independent is picking a college. Closed campuses during the COVID outbreak mean no more in person campus visits, overnight dorm stays, classroom observations, and tours.

In light of closures, some admission offices are allowing interested juniors and admitted seniors a “virtual window” into the campus. My advice: Control what you can. While we can’t do anything about closed campuses or cancelled standardized exams, we can have our children focus on the applications and do some soul searching to determine what really matters to them when it comes to a college, perhaps even broadening their college list.


Testing

Many colleges have stated that certain aspects of the application, in particular, testing scores are test-optional which means applicants can submit test scores if they’d like, but it won’t hurt their chances of admission if they don’t.


Application

Encourage your child to highlight their resume in other ways with summer jobs- that might look like virtual internships or volunteering in services deemed essential at this time like a food drive, clinic, or hospital. They can also use this time to pick up a new hobby (an instrument, writing, etc) or begin working on their admissions essay.


Tours

Virtual tours are offered by many schools on YouVisit.com. or CampusReel.org. You can even use Google Maps to learn. of nearby restaurants, shops, libraries, parks, etc


Guidance

More college and university staff are available to talk and answer questions for students in valuable ways. Directly speaking to a faculty member can be a very informative experience for a student who perhaps is interested in a particular major or department.


Statistics

This is the time to really focus on statistics and numbers since that usual “gut feeling” may not happen without visiting the campus. Learn about how many students get into graduate school, able to obtain financial aid, earn scholarships, etc.


Social Media

In the digital age, many universities already have social media accounts. During the pandemic, they likely have become more active and present. This is a great way to also learn, observe, connect with the university’s students. As colleges


Curriculum

Ask about what resources may be available in the online world as more classes are being held remotely. Are professors hosting one-one-one or group tutoring sessions? Does the university


Connections

If you know a friend or friend of a friend whose kid goes to the university or college in question, now is the time to reach out! Arrange a call so you can learn a firsthand experience. If you don’t have a connection, reach out to the Admissions office and see if they can arrange for your teen to chat with a current student who shares similar academic or extracurricular interests.

With the recent cancellations of standardized tests, the admissions process as a whole looks very different this year and perhaps even the year following. As a pediatrician, I’ve seen this process create increased anxiety in children already overwhelmed by the cancellation of summer plans, adapting to online classes, and adjusting to quarantine life. Having a plan of how to tackle this big decision is a practical and safe way will create a more patient and balanced approach.

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