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Preparing For College During The Pandemic- College Coach’s Advice

Preparing For College During The Pandemic- College Coach’s Advice

Let’s face it, most high school student’s lives are turned upside down as they navigate life right now. So much to think about when it comes to applying for colleges these days.

Many sophomore, juniors and seniors may be a little unsure how to prepare for college. As a college coach, I hope I can offer some guidance for your students in the letter below.

Dear Juniors and sophmores,

Hi juniors and sophomores.  How are you doing?  I know most of the attention has been focused on seniors completing their applications and first-time freshmen navigating online college, but this is also a different semester for you too.

African Student Wearing Mask in Library

This is the time of year that you’d be signing up to attend college visits at your high school so you can learn more about colleges and what you’re interested in.  It’s the time of year you would start thinking about which of the standardized tests you want to take or maybe even starting to test.  All of these things are disrupted or have come to a halt.

As far as testing goes, I really recommend that you sit this semester out.  If you want to take a practice test just to see whether you do better on the SAT or the ACT, go ahead.  But that’s as far as I’d go for now, for two reasons.  The first, is that the few testing dates and locations that are available are needed for seniors who are applying to colleges that are not test-optional.  The second, is that I have a feeling there will be many changes still happening with respect to testing, so best to focus on coursework, grades and learning about colleges!

Portrait of smiling cute hipster girl staring on camera while writing college exercises in notebook

And here’s the good news!  There are many ways to do that! Colleges and college organizations have had time to plan and they have utilized their time productively to come up with alternatives to in-person visits!  Which means YOU can also use this time productively to start learning about colleges and begin to think about what you’re looking for and what’s important to you!

You know I’m all about breaking it down into steps – so let’s do it!

Here’s A 3-Step Plan For Starting To Develop A List Of College Criteria:

1.     Think about what you already know you like.  You need go no further than your own high school experience.  What are the things you like most about your high school?  What are the things you’re missing most from being online?  What are the subjects you love most?  What activities/clubs/organizations are you part of and participate in that you want to continue in college?  That’s the beginning of a great list for what you want in your college experience.

2.     Think about what you DON’T like.  Is your high school too small?  Too big?  Not enough clubs or things to do?  Too much pressure to be involved? Do you feel left out if you don’t want to attend sporting events, join ASB, party? Are the teachers not involved enough?  Too involved?  Do you wish there were more electives in certain areas like business, art, accounting, culinary, creative writing?  This is a great place to start for creating a list of things you want your future college to have.

3.     Attend college presentations.   Once you put together criteria, use your preliminary list to listen for things that the college has that you like and don’t like AND learn things about colleges you didn’t even know to ask.  You may hear in one presentation that the college guarantees housing for freshman students and say to yourself “I definitely want that” and then know to listen for and ask about that in the next presentation you attend.

Here is a list of organizations that are hosting virtual college fairs – you can also check with your school counselor to see if they know any in your area:

WACAC:  Western Association for College Admission Counseling. You can also check the regional organization for your area such as NEACAC, IowaACAC and many others.

NACAC:  National Association for College Admission Counseling. You can register here for college fairs on November 8th

Once you find a few colleges that interest you, check out their websites to sign up for virtual tours,  information sessions and even student panels to learn more about them.

Yes, it’s still virtual, but it’s a fun break from homework and zoom classes and a great way to begin to learn more about and visualize your future college experience!

You got this,

Coach Mira

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