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Unusual times: navigating the college application process during a pandemic

June 23rd, 2020

Wow, what a ride 2020 has been, and we’re only halfway through the year! The college search has changed for everyone, and taking a creative, open and intentional approach has proven key.

Author Jeffrey Selingo offers wonderful pointers for the Class of ’21 in the article we’ve linked to below. Some students will see themselves in what’s described: canceled test dates, changed grading policies, activities going by the wayside, uncertainty about how to proceed. The crux of the message, though, is this: control what you can and use your time this summer effectively, instead of mourning what you can’t control and letting weeks slip by unproductively.

Before you dive in, one difference of opinion to note: Selingo quotes a guidance counselor who recommends expanding your college application list this year. However, I stand by my mantra of “searching broadly and applying narrowly.” The final application list need not have more than 8-9 colleges, particularly if selected with care. Even – perhaps especially – in these unusual times, students should have a firm rationale for applying to each college and not “overapply.”

Article referenced below from The New York Times, published June 3, 2020 written by Jeffrey Selingo

Carly Ross, an 11th-grader at Evanston Township High School outside of Chicago, had planned to take the ACT for the first time in April after completing a 10-week prep course over the winter. When the April test date was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, she signed up for one in June.

Last week, the ACT canceled the June administration at two-thirds of testing locations nationwide, including at Carly’s school. She’s holding out hope to take the test in July.

“It’s adding so much stress to the process because now the ACT is talking about an online test, which is something I haven’t prepared for,” she said. “This isn’t how I expected my college search to unfold at all.”

Read more at New York Times>>

The future is yours: youth activism in a time of crisis

June 9th, 2020

Two weeks have passed since George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. The long string of tragedies that have taken place across the country are rightly bringing racism, social injustice, and all their devastating symptoms squarely to the forefront of our minds. These heartbreaking events have spurred protest and a call to action during what is widely viewed as an historic opportunity for change. We all have questions. You may ask, will any of this make a difference, why now? For lasting change, reform starts with individuals and governments acknowledging the issue, learning about it, and truly understanding the impact. The right time to act is always now.

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In our blog post today, we share an article that highlights 10 youth activists for racial justice who are making a difference. These young people are passionate about social inequities and are working to make their communities and the world a better place. There is so much despair in our world but at the same time there is hope. Never doubt that your young voices bring about hope in a time that seems hopeless, and that your actions will bring much-needed change.

Article referenced below from, written by Meredith Nardino


If there’s one thing that has defined the last year, it’s the power of youth activism. From pushing to pass smarter gun laws to leading a movement against climate change, young people are raising their voices and proving to everyone that there’s no age limit for social change. Another space where young people are leading the way? Racial justice and its intersecting issues, including gun violence, access to education, and representation in various spaces. There are so, so many young people fighting for racial justice and equality every single day. Here are 10 of those incredible activists you should know.

Looking for your own way to contribute towards racial equity? Check out our #RedefineBlack campaign, sponsored by My Black is Beautiful, to learn how you can advocate for positive, racially-unbiased dictionary definitions of “Black.”

Read more at>>

Commencement in a challenging year

May 26th, 2020

To the class of 2020: wow, what a year, one that will go down in history books! This year, life threw an unexpected curve-ball that would change long-awaited milestones and events. And now graduation, a rite of passage that signifies a new beginning, will be celebrated in an altogether different way for most of you.

Image via CNN

Even so, your heart should be filled with pride because all of your studying, researching, test-taking, commitments to extracurriculars and volunteer service, and hard work have paid off. The class of 2020 is resilient and this pandemic can’t take away your strength and goals for the future. Hats off to the class of 2020 – we are proud of you!

Today, we celebrate your success and remind you that this moment in life does not define you but enriches you. Congratulations, and please enjoy the meaningful messages Forbes has compiled from some of the world’s most respected individuals for the class of 2020.

Article referenced below from Forbes, published May 16, 2020, written by Susan Adams

The Best Commencement Speeches Of 2020

When you can’t have all the pomp because of the circumstances, what does a graduation look like? That’s the question countless high schools and colleges across America had to answer this year amid a global pandemic. So teachers, parents, students and administrators came up with an array of creative and meaningful celebrations for the Class of 2020.

In Walhalla, South Carolina, the lampposts on Main Street were adorned with banners featuring the portraits of 257 graduating seniors. For the students at North Salem High School in New York, graduation will be held at a drive-in movie theater next month. And what better way to celebrate how driven the senior class at Speedway High School has been than by crossing the finish line at the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500.

Read more at Forbes>>

How will colleges reopen?

May 12th, 2020

And will they reopen this fall? These are the two most frequent questions crossing my desk in recent weeks. If only I had a crystal ball …

In these uncertain times, higher education leaders are trying to determine what fall semester will look like. Many universities have already pushed back the first enrollment deposit date from May 1 to June 1, affording students and parents more time to consider their options.

President Julio Frenk, a world-renowned public health expert, is leading the university and its health systems through the most severe pandemic since influenza. Photo credit: File photo via The Miami Hurricane student newspaper

Yet, while students are being asked to make a commitment, colleges find it nearly impossible to commit to clear plans with certainty. We’d all like to be optimistic and we have no doubt that every campus would like to reopen for business as usual. However, the pandemic and related safety concerns will dictate choices.

Many colleges have set a date to announce their plans for fall semester and The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking updates from individual schools on this topic.

While most universities have yet to release their plans, University of Miami is providing admirable transparency about considerations for reopening this fall. Today, to provide insight, we share an article from The Miami Hurricane student newspaper, where President Julio Frenk, a world renowned health expert and physician, uses his background to create a four-part plan for what students might expect this fall.

Information referenced below from The Miami Hurricane student newspaper on May 11, 2020 written by Anna Timmons

President Frenk outlines his plan for a return this fall

University of Miami President Julio Frenk is confident that in-person instruction will resume come August. However, during a Zoom roundtable discussion with student media leaders on April 30, Frenk said the campus environment students return to will be very different.

The university’s plan for a return in the fall will include mass-testing of students and employees for COVID-19, contact tracing and a reimagination of on-campus lifestyle and instruction, Frenk said.

Throughout the course of this pandemic, Frenk has been leading UM decisions not just as the president of the university, but also as a world-renowned global health expert. During his long career in public health, Frenk has worked as a physician, Mexico’s secretary of health, an executive director at the World Health Organization, a senior fellow of public health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and most recently served as the dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Read more at The University of Miami Hurricane student newspaper>>