In recent years, I’ve written to you in the wake of weather-related school closings following Irma and Dorian and sadly, following horrific community shootings – some too close to home. Today, we face a new threat and I will address how to navigate your 2019-20 Educational and College Admissions Planning impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below, I’ve provided some helpful guidelines to address the questions you are likely asking about classes/learning, extracurriculars, testing and college campus visits.
My message isn’t meant to supplant information your school district has provided. Please monitor all local, state and federal communications to remain up-to-date and avoid any inaccuracies being shared across social media. Above all, I extend my best wishes for your good health and remind us all that every citizen is part of a broader local and global community. Where and how can you help others?
As my current clients were notified yesterday, in order to help mitigate the growing risk of virus transmission, College Career Consulting is immediately implementing policies consistent with ongoing recommendations to engage in social distancing. My new policy is effective immediately and will be in place through Monday April 13. I will reassess as that date approaches and communicate any changes as early as circumstances permit. Please call me with any questions.
As we all know, the epidemic has progressed and is spreading to communities throughout the US. School districts and University campuses across the country are adopting educational policies which include campus closures. Today many more university campuses have announced a shift to remote/distance learning. Please check campus websites before heading out to any scheduled visits – this is a fluid and rapidly changing situation.
While much remains unknown about COVID-19’s epidemiology and the immediate impact on our daily lives, I’m sure your physicians and trusted medical resources continue to inform you to proceed on the assumption that the virus will spread broadly and eventually reach your community and educational campus.
Today, I’m offering some guidelines on how to navigate the remainder of the academic year with grade-level appropriate recommendations for all that impacts your educational and college admissions planning:
– Academic Success in your classes and navigating your learning experience should you be personally quarantined, or your school district moves to online learning. (Here’s where leveraging my thirty years as an educator will be invaluable to creating and supporting your academic plan.)
exam prep and anticipated cancellations of some test dates – NY testing for March is cancelled in many local communities. This is no different than September test date cancellations during hurricanes impacting Florida and Texas. I can imagine it’s difficult to accept a cancellation after you dedicated months to preparing for a specific test date. In the grand scope of things, students should be reminded of the affected athletes during the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics and realize – everything is going to be just fine, and you’ll adapt seamlessly.
– Attending extracurriculars (or Not)-Especially in-light of travel restrictions your Robotics, Debate, Model UN etc. may be cancelled or your family will decide to remain at home.
– College Campus Visits and Unnecessary Travel
CLASSROOM LEARNING: SCHOOL CLOSINGS and/or PERSONAL QUARANTINE
To support realizing each individual student’s 2019-20 educational goals and broader college admissions planning, please reach out to explore how you will personalize your learning if you are unable to attend school or your school shifts to online learning. Let’s discuss the challenges you see – and let’s proactively create a plan together to make sure you can stay on target with this year’s academic goals.
Your school district or college campus may very soon implement alternative ways of delivery of academic requirements that are consistent with social distancing.
If you have any questions about those policies as they become available, please call me for guidance. Many students have IEPs / 504s and modifications may become necessary-please expect that your local high school may not be prepared to respond to such a dramatic situation.
Many college campuses have already encouraged students to consider staying home after their Spring Breaks-including nearly all Metro NY campuses and several Ivy-League universities and campuses including WUSTL, Emory, Hofstra, Amherst and many more.
These policies may soon serve as a model for how high school campuses will deliver instruction whereby students can meet their academic requirements remotely and will attend their classes remotely-. As a Cornell and NYU alumna – I’ve received emails that emphasize why this short-term disruption outweighs the great risk of widespread infection.
Universities are in better position than local public-school districts to implement instructional changes. The training and technology will likely be unresponsive and woefully inadequate despite the best of teachers’ desires to continue to engage and serve the great number of students who may be unprepared to engage online and sadly slip through the cracks. Students will need the support of friends, parents and teachers to stay on target with their academic goals and requirements to complete the 2019-20 year.
Learning Resources: Way back in September, my newsletter and blog provided several external support resources. All these recommendations are especially relevant during an extended school closing or school absence.
In my profession, this is referred to as a “teaching moment” and indeed it is-giving young adults opportunities to adapt and rise to the occasion of self-directed learning and decision-making – ready to accept what is out-of-your-control with grace and maturity.
Teens will be challenged to rise to the occasion on time management strategies and especially within their most difficult courses. I often tell students that time is wasted complaining over poor teaching when a bad grade is received – mismatches do happen – and in distance learning this situation can be magnified. You must learn the material – so based on your learning style – let’s together create a plan that is self-directed. At the start of each academic year, I urge parents and students to shift responsibility towards a student-led process of academic success and personal comfort. So how do we solve new learning problems that may surface within a new learning model?
STUDY GROUPS over TUTORS:
I continue to encourage and introduce students to the collaborative learning taking place throughout college as the model to implement during high school. Regardless of whether your teen is succeeding or struggling, study groups are one of the most effective ways to learn in challenging classes. At this point- if there is a school closure- create a “watch party” – or form a team of 2 to 3 students to progress through lessons in a mutually supportive way to learn material while practicing social distancing- now is the time that the social media skills our teens take for granted can be put to great use.
Many clients experience Pre-Calc, Calculus or AP Chemistry challenges, and I often discourage reliance on a tutor as this doesn’t foster a student’s academic and social independence. A great tutor is worth every dollar spent. However, a standing weekly appointment with your tutor can undermine your student’s ability to learn how to learn and to learn how to absorb the concepts being taught by the teacher at the front of the classroom.
So here we are- and there’s not going to be a teacher in front of a classroom. Some school districts will be ready to move forward with remote learning as teachers will have videos of lessons. Others with less robust technological resources and no time nor budget to train teachers on their use will find themselves receiving little more than a PowerPoint and reading list. Teens- you’re going have to embrace proactive approaches- you have AP exams, final exams and above all- you need to learn the material in order to advance to the next course in the sequence.
Look around your classroom(s) and reach out to form a study group for ongoing homework, test preparation and reinforcement of materials with people you can work with in an organized forward-facing manner. I can help you set up a schedule.
It’s reasonable to expect that tutors will be reluctant to visit your home – and these will become available to you remotely. Ask about referrals and ask about setting up small group online lessons. But before you go that route….
OTHER Learning RESOURCES: Here are some outstanding online resources that focus on self-reliance in challenging AP and STEM classes include:
Khan Academy, Thinkwell & Wolfram Alpha
Your textbook and the College Board are also excellent resources. If your textbook isn’t over a decade old, find the ISBN # in the inside cover and you’ll be surprised to learn that many publishing companies offer online student support resources for specific textbooks including practice test questions and helpful explanations of complex concepts.
As an educational consultant, I can assist your student in creating a self-directed ongoing learning and time management strategy to not only feel confident about academic readiness in high school classes, but also proactively prepare throughout the academic year for spring AP and SATII subject tests. There is no reason for surprises nor stress in April when a student can realistically assume responsibility for learning and time management throughout the year. COVID-19 is going to create school closings- be ready to move forward in the absence of your teacher and traditional lessons.
Our long-term goal is to build your student’s educational strategy to leave each student feeling empowered about their success! The shorter-term and immediate goal-learning all remaining materials in your courses and be ready for year-end exams taking place in May. (Expect delayed testing – fluid situation- watch College Board Closely and look for notices from your school administrators)
7th and 8th Grade students-
While your goal is to do well and learn materials in all your classes, the longer term impact of learning in classes that build upon knowledge acquired in earlier years is critical to master- i.e. math, foreign language and science. Your placement in subsequent high school coursework rests on how you do in these foundational classes. If courses move to an online platform, it is essential that classes that continue and impact high school 9th grade placement are mastered.
9th, 10th and 11th: As above, mastering and learning materials essential to moving to the next science, math and foreign language course is your priority. Many of you have scheduled AP, AICE and IB exams -and these exams are important elements of subsequent college applications. March is about the time I encourage clients to map out their review process – review books containing 20 to 24 chapters- with only seven weeks remaining to the first AP exams-that’s roughly2 to 3 chapters a week to review of content.
*** Traditionally high school teachers begin AP review in early April – if schools shift to online or you become ill – this is a great challenge. PROACTIVE RESPONSES – again- a mixed blessing- this situation is giving students an opportunity to bring their best foot- and their game face to the table to personally take charge of outcomes. If you need help creating a plan – please reach out! More below about test cancellations and make -up dates.
12th- Graduating Seniors- Dare I say it-if you catch senioritis – this isn’t the end-all but I remind you that a significant decline in your GPA from the time you submitted your application can be the grounds for college admissions retraction or possibly being placed on academic probation upon arrival. You’ll have to send a final transcript showing course completion.
The most pressing issue facing seniors are AP exams and mastery to allow for proper placement in your freshman classes. Like all students, investing proactively in exam preparation and forming study groups is good sense – and unlike your previous three years-you are now facing a potential challenge to complete the year in the absence of a classroom. What worked before many not work for you during this cycle of AP/IB/AICE. Early preparation makes sense.
There are several testing dates for SAT and ACT ahead including this Saturday, March 14 (cancellations in NY, Washington and California at several local testing centers) and later this spring. Students should expect that more local testing centers will close – but experts predict that the virus will diminish with warmer weather- June testing will likely take place.
Students registered at these locations are re-assigned to other testing locations, displayed at the website. This is a highly fluid situation- so please check as it’s being updated regularly.
I work with students and families to help navigate the college admissions process, including any unexpected challenges including canceled campus visits (see more below) and standardized testing strategy. Moreover, you may need to respond to your college list and decisions – let’s discuss!
Perhaps the biggest challenge for all students will be AP exams scheduled for the first two weeks of May. Be aware that there are already scheduled AP exam make up dates noted here. If previous history repeats itself, individual school districts in coordination with the College Board and ACT will likely shift/add/delete testing dates as more information about the virus and its spread/impact becomes clear. Be proactive-look ahead at dates.
I’m sure as we get further into the virus, the College Board will make provide revisions and would expect to see modifications to accommodate an unforeseen global pandemic.
Sadly, IB and AICE have never had make-up and late testing- we will see if adjustments are implemented this year.
NACAC Directive:The National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), in conjunction with the Common App, College Board, ACT and other groups, released a directive requesting flexibility for students affected by delays directly caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
In terms of college admissions planning, SATII Subject tests for juniors are very important to complete. This material and knowledge fades after a school year is completed. That said, it is reasonable to expect that some tests may need to occur in early fall which will require some part of summer devoted to test preparation and potentially delaying finalizing the short list of colleges until scores become known.
Most students are engaged in extracurriculars – whether this be team sports, academic pursuits such as FIRST Robotics, Model UN, DECA, HOSA, Debate, Film festivals, community volunteering and collegiate summer programs. At this point of the academic year, students may have advanced to state and national competitions, or have a study abroad scheduled this spring/summer — all of this part of the educational plan that supports your college admissions plan and applications. (Click to view extracurriculars and college applications).
Many local school districts have already cancelled study abroad opportunities. Certainly the State Department advisories are relevant. The decision to travel throughout the US is a deeply personal one.
If you’re in 7-8-9-10 grades-travel by air or to high density areas is deemed unnecessary. There will be ample opportunity again to compete, engage – and your health is your priority. It’s your personal decision- I can only tell you there is going to be no long-term adverse impact on your academic growth or college applications if you must sit-this-one-out. Likewise – graduating seniors- while this may have been the moment you planned for throughout high-school- advancing to nationals or even international competition- it’s a hugely personal disappointment- but in the grand scope of things- your college acceptances are complete and pretty much with few exceptions nothing you’ll do in high school will have any bearing on your next educational/career step-which is securing a summer 2021 internship by participating in your college’s fall career fair.
So juniors – ’21- this is a huge personal decision. This is your last opportunity to enhance your college application activities resume. If you can travel by car- and the city you’re travelling to is not one currently under a “state of emergency” – you can decide as late as possible. Unnecessary air travel is still the standard to apply in rendering a decision on participation. Again, your health is the most important consideration and assessing risk. Keep in mind, many college campuses are now shutting their doors- and competition venues are often local university campuses. Check venues- and be prepared to accept that the event has likely been cancelled.
Point of fact a recent Fencing Competition was attended by a COVID-19 positive parent- chaos has ensued.
First and foremost, before placing your deposit, please secure a written confirmation that your deposit can be returned in the event your family decides not to attend given the current unknown advance of the virus. As campuses are closing, I’m sure there is great uncertainty as to whether these programs will even commence – although at the moment , all universities are still accepting applications to their high school collegiate programs.
BACK-UP PLANS: Most assuredly, apply to any programs that are close to home. Begin to explore potential professional shadowing/internship opportunities with any organizations within your community by leveraging connections in all settings. If you need guidance on drafting a resume/cover letter, please reach out. Juniors should have a summer plan that extends beyond taking local online classes at a community college-especially after having potentially spent the balance of the high school academic year in a remote learning experience. We all expect the pandemic to resolve by the warmer summer months- but colleges may not be prepared to open their doors to minors for all sorts of reasons.
9th-10th grade students- -By all means, this falls under the category of unnecessary travel and it can wait. Let’s add to that that many colleges are shutting their doors- including nearly all the Ivy League, many Metro NYC campus and others throughout the Northeast, FL, California and elsewhere. Stay home and do some online academic research.
11th- While you may have been aiming to finalize or home in on your balanced short list of colleges prior to summer break- again, the there’s no reason your visit cannot be postponed until fall 2020 where visit days will resume. College Admissions Websites are already cancelling “campus visit” days – check before heading out- but as of now nearly all Ivy league and all Metro NYC campuses are closed for visitors.
Seniors – 20 — You’re between a rock and hard place-as all your college admissions notifications will be known by April 1 – and decisions on enrollment deposits are to be placed by May 1 (Please see my subsequent note on Placing Your Deposit and Negotiating Your Financial Awards early April).
As campuses continue to announce closings, most “Accepted Student” programs will be cancelled as several colleges officially shut down campuses. Several campuses have already announced virtual tours and events- watch your emails.
Accepted student events might be the first time you’re going to visit a top-choice school and the absent a visit, it’s difficult to decide on where to enroll.
Remain informed on potential closures and cancellations at universities before you visit any campus.
Colleges will engage with accepted students in official accepted student forums on Facebook- and other virtual pathways-it’s a weak substitute but one where current students ask questions. There’s no replacement and it is indeed a terrible choice to make without ever having stepped on campus. If a campus is closed, the decision to visit is mute. If the campus remains open, your family has to make a personal choice – air travel continues to be risky but driving may be an acceptable option depending on distance and the time you should be allocating at this time in proximity to your AP /AICE/IB exam preparation.
Please schedule a conference to help you:
– Understand your financial aid award letter
– Negotiate your financial aid award
– Evaluate your academic options relative to the cost of attendance and the educational investment
Please remain diligent in helping to avoid sharing misinformation, spreading fear and of course practicing good hygiene including frequent handwashing and avoid touching your face.
Stay home if you are sick and continue to monitor local, state, and federal agencies for the latest on COVID-19 provided by qualified public health officials. This is a very serious public health situation and should not be taken lightly but every decision is a family decision and I am here to help you evaluate options and make decisions you are facing on course planning/distance learning, testing, extracurriculars, summer programs and campus visits in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, I also understand that some of you may not share my position on social distancing and have a different approach on how you respond to the risks and uncertainties that citizens of all nations currently face. Please recognize your role in being a global citizen and member of your local community that cares for your neighbors and brings a positive spirit now more than ever to whatever your situation may be.
Thanks for your patience and I’m confident that you will have no difficulties communicating with me remotely during the next few weeks of uncertain times as I practice social distancing- please just ask the quarter of my clients who currently work with me remotely from all over the country- California, DC, NYC, NJ, Boston, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Colorado (I am now serving in-person as well in Boulder and Denver), Texas, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle and even students who live only a few miles away in South Florida- who find it most convenient to engage from the comfort of their dining room table.
Florida: 561.509.0021 Colorado: 720.737.9944 and Nationwide: 833.MY.ESSAY
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. is the founder and principal educational consultant of College Career Consulting, LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a university faculty member and shares her knowledge, professional resources and support with students who are ready to advance their lifelong educational and career journeys.