By Alan Sheptin, MBA, CEP
We’re all stuck indoors, save the occasional trip to the supermarket, bike ride or walk. The malls are closed. The museums are shuttered. Vacations are a memory for now.
For those of you whose children are sophomores and juniors, college planning is taking on a whole new meaning. Those Spring Break college road trips are now couch surfing. The College Board has cancelled all exams through July 2020. Will the ACT will follow suit? AP exams will be open book and 45 minutes long. Regents and final exams are cancelled.
So, now what? Topic by topic, let’s explore what’s going on and what your students should be doing during this newfound reality.
What’s going on: Almost every college and university in the United States (and abroad, too!) have shifted to e-learning. For the foreseeable future, colleges have suspended campus visits and information sessions.
What you can do: For schools that are of interest, go to the college’s admissions page to see when virtual admission talks and tours take place. Connect socially with the school using any (or all) of the media offered. Feel free to reach out to the admissions officer for your region and ask any questions you have. If you have a specific academic interest, send an email to the department chair. The silver lining to all this is that all the college students are home. Find an alum of your local high school that attends a school you want to learn about and make your own informal, personalized information session! Bottom line: continue to do research and make yourself known to the admission folks.
A great website: Youvisit.com has virtual tours of hundreds of colleges and universities worldwide.
SATs, ACTs, Subject Tests:
What’s going on – SAT and Subject Tests: The College Board has cancelled all its testing through July 2020. It does plan to resume live testing in August with additional testing dates in the Fall, should that be possible. If not, the SAT will be offered digitally. There has been no word on Subject Tests, but I would expect them to start in August, too.
What’s going on – ACT: As of this writing, the ACT still plans to offer the exam in June. However, I think that will change soon. The ACT will be offering single subject online testing starting in September; however, I think that it will migrate to offering the full test online at that time as well, also with expanded live testing, if possible.
What’s going on – colleges’ responses: We have seen many colleges and universities become temporarily test optional. This may last for only one year or indefinitely. Time will tell.
What you should know: Test optional means that: test optional. Since schools evaluate students holistically (they look at the “whole student,” not just a single parameter), strong scores can only help. Some schools, such as the Ivies and some large state universities have not yet forsaken testing.
What you can do: If your child has been preparing for the SAT or ACT, stay the course. Your child should avoid backpedaling. Remember – a good score can only help your case.
Community Service, Research, Summer Study and Extracurriculars
What’s Going On: Since schools are closed, some clubs are running virtually. Some research may be doable, but more on the humanities or non-lab sciences. On-campus college programs have migrated to virtual media.
What you can do: We predict that the colleges will be asking the classes of 2021 and 2022 what they did, outside of academics, during this pandemic. Students can still stand out! If your child likes languages, duolingo is an inexpensive, fun way to try a new language (I’m working on Hungarian. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever undertaken!). Outlier.org enables students to take Calculus 1 or Psych 1 through the University of Pittsburgh and coursera offers many free or low-cost courses. Athletes can find daily workout videos. And volunteering can take on a whole new realm: teensgive, UN online volunteering and translators without borders are some interesting ways of giving back. The more creative your child can get, so much the better.
Being cooped up is not fun. It’s trying on everyone’s nerves. What’s most challenging is that we have no idea where the light is at the end of the tunnel. However, it need not be a deterrent. By thinking outside the box and being clever, your child can make this COVID-19 nightmare into a growing, learning experience.
Do you want to know more? Please feel free to reach out to us at 914-232-3743, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Sheptin, MBA, CEP, founder of the Sheptin Tutoring Group in Chappaqua, is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.
Sheptin Tutoring, in partnership with Athena College Advisors, is offering a meeting on Tuesday April 21 from 8 – 9 PM: “College planning in a time of COVID-19.” Please call Sheptin Tutoring Group at 914-232-3743 if you wish to join the meeting.