It's time again for college visits, but this time for Olivia. Having gone through college visits with Sophia in 2018, I can say that this round is substantially different. Masks, social distancing, Zoom meetings, not bringing outside food and beverages onto campuses during college visits, no handshakes - all make for quite a uniquely memorable experience.
Given how everything is different than in the past in terms of admissions, I was happy to come across College Admissions During COVID - How to Navigate the New Challenges in Admissions, Testing, Financial Aid, and More by Robert Frankek.
Although some of the information was general and I already knew because of having one daughter in college (e.g., what the FAFSA is, test options, financial aid), there were some things that are helpful to know:
- A best fit for college rests on four things: academic fit, cultural fit, financial fit, and career fit.
- Ask about on-campus research experiences such as working alongside a professor in a lab, writing a thesis, or completing a capstone project for a major.
- Practice taking the ACT while wearing a mask and at the time that the test will be held.
- If an ACT score is low, remember that a college application also includes essays, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular activities. These all set you apart from other applicants.
- Take the ACT when you are ready
- Balance schoolwork and outside-school interests
- Take the most challenging courses available to you.
- Start gathering teacher recommendations
- Make virtual campus visits for a narrowed-down college list
- Research available scholarships
SUMMER BEFORE SENIOR YEAR
- Start working on your application and prewriting college essays
- Make a calendar of all application deadlines (college and scholarships)
- Consider visiting colleges that are on the top of your list
- If you are applying for Early Decision, take the ACT no later than September
- Create your own project. Turn your interests and talents into a summer-long project (e.g., practicing creative writing and submitting your work to journals that publish the work of high school students)
- Become an entrepreneur - start a business that offers a service to your community
- Volunteer locally - commit to volunteering for a few hours a week from now through senior year
- Find a research opportunity. Use a platform like Zooniverse to contribute to scientific research or transcribe historical documents
SENIOR YEAR - FALL
- Apply early if you're a strong candidate
- Finish applications and stay on top of deadlines for scholarships and financial aid
- Keep focused and study. Senior grades matter and can affect financial aid
SENIOR YEAR - SPRING
- Send thank-you notes to your recommenders
- Talk to family before making a final college choice
- Read through your college's course catalog and start planning for your next four years!
- Your GPA and the rigor of your high school courses are the most important factors on your application.
- Find and commit to the extracurricular activities that you find meaningful. Look for activities through community organizations
- Find ways to further your passions on your own initiative, apart from school settings
- Look at websites for engaging in service that helps others:
- All for Good
- Crisis Text Line
- Points of Light
- Project Gutenberg
-Smithsonian Transcription Center
- United Nations Volunteers
- World Family Children Foundation
- Earn money by creating art or graphic designs and selling them to others. Check out CafePress
- If you're an artist, meet online with an Art Club to share and critique work for your portfolio, or deliver illustrations and photography to brighten up a local hospital or nursing home.
- Send in a financial aid appeal as soon as possible after the financial aid package arrives.
- Be honest about any claims you make about your finances with the financial aid officer.
- Finish college in three years, if possible. Take the maximum number of credits each semester and earn credits via online courses.
- College essay: tell about something that is important to you - an experience, a person, or a book. It shows colleges the unique qualities you will add to the incoming class.
- Take the opportunity to really examine how an experience taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow.
- Always send thank-you notes to people with whom you've interviewed.
- Asking for a letter of recommendation
- Ask early - either in your late junior year or senior year
- Get detailed - provide a resume so the person doing the letter of recommendation has something to work with
- Let the person know when you need the letter of recommendation