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Changes surrounding ACT, SAT and college admissions amid coronavirus outbreak

March 31st, 2020

COVID-19 has certainly changed our world. I’m constantly thinking about those affected physically, mentally and financially. For high school and college students alike, so much of their immediate future has changed: graduation, prom, financial aid and decision day. Many feel a tremendous sense of loss. Parents and students everywhere are seeking ways to manage the uncertainty.

Photo by Junfu Han via USA Today

The week before last, we held a virtual open house with two college students who had returned home from their campuses mid-March due to the Coronavirus outbreak. They answered many questions from parents and students about what families can do to feel more confident as decision day approaches. Some of the excellent advice they shared centered on finding virtual tours, virtual chats and online groups of current or incoming students at schools under serious consideration. We’re grateful for the time they shared, even as they were trying to adjust to their own “new normal.”

In response to students’ need for up-to-date information, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has developed an online tool tracking colleges’ changes to campus visit policies, enrollment deposit deadlines, etc. You’ll find a wealth of information on this website: https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/newsroom/college-admission-status-coronavirus/

More colleges are becoming test-optional in admissions, which is one positive change to report. Recently announcing this new policy, in some cases on a pilot basis due to spring testing plans having been upended: Boston University, Case Western Reserve U., Scripps College, Tufts U., U. of Oregon, among others.

Still, most current juniors should plan ahead for summer and fall testing. Future dates are subject to change so you’ll find it helpful to monitor updates that ACT and SAT are sharing. Another excellent resource on this topic is Applerouth, a trusted test prep provider. The article linked below was initially published on their website, and it’s a useful resource for those affected by SAT or ACT cancellations.

Stay strong and healthy, and stay in touch with updates and any questions you may have. We remain here for you, focused on your bright futures.

Article referenced below originally published March 17, 2020, by Jed Applerouth.

What to do if your SAT or ACT was Canceled

Yesterday, The College Board and ACT, Inc. announced that in response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the SAT and ACT will be suspended until June. Students who were planning to take the makeup SAT on March 28, the ACT on April 4, or the SAT on May 2 will have to make adjustments to their testing plans. 

For students who had prepared or have been preparing for these tests for weeks or months, this decision, though necessary for public safety, was disappointing. At the same time, the delays don’t mean that the work you have been putting in this spring will be for naught or that you won’t be ready to apply for college come fall. 

If your spring SAT or ACT was canceled, here are steps you can take to make sure you are prepared once testing resumes:

Read more at Applerouth>>

How COVID-19 is affecting colleges and boarding schools

March 17th, 2020

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is causing major disruptions in the education world. In addition to significant health-related concerns, students and parents are also feeling effects that relate directly to their ongoing education, not to mention college and boarding school planning.

Sophomore Sadia Demby moves her belongings through Harvard Yard on March 12. Photo via CNN

Colleges and universities across the US have canceled in-person classes, turning to virtual instruction instead; some have chosen to shut down altogether for the remainder of the semester. Many boarding schools are following suit. And with that, campus visit opportunities are being cancelled or postponed as well.

Policies may even change from day to day at this precarious time. The National Association for Admission Counseling (NACAC) has quickly developed a tool to help students and parents stay abreast of changes, found here: https://www.nacacnet.org/college-admission-status-coronavirus.

For seniors who can no longer make final visits ahead of determining a college enrollment choice, we encourage you to take these steps:

  • Research academic and extracurricular opportunities carefully, deeply, on college websites
  • Utilize social media to find current students to connect with, and to see what current students are talking about
  • Talk with other contacts who’ve had firsthand experience with the colleges under final consideration
  • If online events for accepted students are held, plan to participate

Many boarding schools have also canceled revisit programs for accepted students ahead of the April 10 commitment date.  Our advice to these families is similar:

  • Research academic and extracurricular opportunities carefully, deeply, on school websites
  • Utilize social media to find current students and parents to connect with, and to see what current students and parents are talking about
  • Talk with other contacts who’ve had firsthand experience with the schools under final consideration
    • If none, ask admission offices if they can provide contacts
  • If online events for accepted students are held, plan to participate

Families with younger students still in the school or college search pipeline have the luxury of time, and we can hope that this virus will indeed be contained if sufficient precautions are taken.  Ideally, next fall we will see everything back to normal. 

Luckily we live in an age where there is an immense amount of information available online and we wish everyone continued good health.  This is a time for altruism, when we must not only look out for ourselves but for others, too.

If you are looking for more information about how college students are being affected by institutions’ response to coronavirus, please read this great article from Harmeet Kaur at CNN.

If you’re a college student affected by coronavirus or the parent of one, here’s what you need to know

(CNN)For some students in the US, school’s already out for the summer — sort of.

A growing number of colleges and universities around the country are canceling in-person classes and asking students to leave campus as a precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Some, like Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Berea College, have asked students to vacate campus for the rest of the semester. Others, like the University of Washington and The Ohio State University, are moving their classes online for a few weeks while they continue to monitor the situation.

Read more at CNN>>

Freshman files: Academic adjustments

March 3rd, 2020

Transitioning from high school to college can be a big change, especially when it comes to academics. College coursework traditionally involves a larger workload and different ways of thinking than high school students are used to, so how can you prepare before stepping foot onto that college campus?


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Istock photo via USNews

Learning from the experiences of others is a great way to understand the world around us. For this reason we’re sharing another “Freshman Files” post related specifically to academic challenges and successes experienced by our first-year college students. Our students were generous in responding, so please carve out time to digest all that they’ve shared.

  1. They learn the importance of time management and organization

My academic transition to college was fairly smooth but not devoid of challenges or learning hurdles. I have definitely developed new organizational and study skills that have proven to be imperative to my academic success. Despite these needed adjustments, I managed to earn a 4.0 for my first semester at UT. **happy dance** (University of Texas in Austin, Texas)

I definitely found it a bit hard at first to hold myself accountable for my work, especially without these adults in my life there to remind me to put my phone away, or not watch tv on my computer instead of doing homework. But, I quickly found a work environment that worked for me in the library (away from my bed and my friends!), which has been working out really well for me. I would say that everyone has to find what works for them in terms of how much initiative they must take to get their work done …. (Tulane University in Louisiana)

So far, the thing that sticks out to me as being relatively challenging, especially at the beginning of first semester, has been learning to manage my time well. I have learned very quickly how different college is from high school and that although professors are there to help you, they treat you like adults and expect you to handle things yourself. Although this was very different than what I was used to in high school, I have grown accustomed to it, and it is no longer a big deal. (Duke University in North Carolina)

Although the courses are certainly more demanding than what I took in high school, I feel like they’re mostly manageable as long as I put in a good amount of effort. When I arrived, I was expecting to be faced with the archetypal scenario of “student who excelled at their high school ends up being average or below average at their new university,” but so far I’ve found that this isn’t really the case. My experience has been that it is still possible and reasonable to do quite well in classes if enough effort is put in. (Stanford University in California)

I’m thoroughly enjoying my time at Harvard, though I did find the transition surprisingly challenging. The two dimensions of college life that were hardest to adjust to were challenging academics and time management—two things I didn’t expect to be so hard to balance. I found that the days quickly slipped by because there is simply so much happening on campus. … After using my break to reflect on where my time wasn’t very well spent last semester, I’ve been able to adjust my schedule and, so far, have had a much more balanced and relaxed second semester.  (Harvard University in Massachusetts)

  1. They take classes they are interested in

Academics have been challenging, but all my classes have been pretty interesting. Last quarter I took math, engineering analysis (math and coding basically), intro to comp sci, and design thinking and communication (a project course). Math was especially difficult for me. The first midterm took me by surprise, but I was able to pull my grade back up by the end of the quarter. It was my first B+, but it was the proudest I’ve ever been for a grade because I worked incredibly hard for it! Getting straight A’s is also a lot less important now in my opinion. What matters more than the grades in classes is that you’re taking courses in what you’re interested in and actually learning the material. My courses this quarter are also very difficult, but I got a lot more freedom to select my classes this quarter so I’m much more excited about them all. (Northwestern University in Illinois)

I have really enjoyed diving deep into my courses this semester – I am taking Ethics in Business, Global Media Studies, Introduction to Macroeconomics, Writing, and Deviant Behavior. I am definitely facing a heavier workload this semester, but am embracing it and taking the challenge really well so far. (Tulane University in Louisiana)

  1. They become self-advocates

I received learning accommodations and have been extremely impressed with the Student Disability Services (SDS) offices at UT. After submitting documentation and fulfilling my intake appointment requirements, I have come to recognize how important self-advocacy is in college life. Since I have been aware of my learning disability for many years, I am able to articulate my academic struggles and needs as a result of my dyslexia. This proved to be crucial in receiving accommodations and achieving academic success. After communicating my documentation and desired accommodations, the SDS offices not only fulfilled my requested accommodations but also offered me accommodations that I had never received previously. Apart from extended exam time, a low-distraction testing environment, and laptop usage for notes and essays, I now receive early class registration, a spell-check aid, and calculator access. I utilize the SDS offices often and am so happy to report that advisors are always eager to help and easily accessible.  (University of Texas in Austin, Texas)

Getting to know your professors is very easy! Even in a bigger classroom setting, I always try to check in with my professor about my progress via email and sometimes by going to their office hours, especially if I am struggling to grasp a particular concept. … you are expected to advocate for yourself, so you must reach out to your professor first and build that relationship, as it doesn’t always happen naturally, especially in bigger, lecture-style courses, where you may not be able to make a personal connection with the professor right away. But, I have found every professor here to be incredibly helpful and resourceful, as they truly want you to succeed and do your best work, so they will always be there for you if and when you need them. (Tulane University in Louisiana)

  1. They stay positive and adjust to the rigors of college life

Probably the biggest takeaway that I have had from college so far is the way that classes teach you how to think. In my limited experience thus far, my classes have been very limited in the factual knowledge and memorization departments, but rather teach their students how to think. I noticed this especially in a history class that I took first semester. I went into it thinking that it would be like history classes that I had taken previously, but I was very wrong. This class taught me how to see history in a totally different way and to pay attention to how things are all connected, not just memorize dates. (Duke University in North Carolina)

I’ve had an excellent (and very busy) transition. … I took a lighter academic load Autumn Quarter in order to ease myself into the transition, but this quarter I’m taking quite a few more classes, including a few more difficult ones; however, they’re all very interesting and engaging and I appreciate the challenge, despite the stress they cause and amount of time they eat up. (Stanford University in California)

I would say that for the most part, assignments differ from high school in that there is a lot more pressure on you to check in with yourself about your own understanding of a subject matter. … Additionally, assignments typically have more weight in college, so it is crucial that you leave yourself enough time to complete assignments, as procrastination will not earn you a grade that it may have been able to earn you in high school. Lastly, professors hold incredibly high expectations for students … so do not be discouraged if when beginning a course, you are struggling a little bit, the material is supposed to challenge you! (Tulane University in Louisiana)

We always appreciate our students’ willingness to share their experiences with such openness and honesty. These small write-ups can have such an impact on high school students who are about to embark on this journey in the near future, so we thank our former advisees and wish them continued success!

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Emotional IQ and the connection to college applications

February 18th, 2020

Shrop Ed advisees have grown accustomed to hearing me stress the importance of developing as a person first, maximizing potential and impact, which results in the secondary benefit of becoming a stronger college candidate. This is a lifelong skill, not just for the sake of college admissions but, more importantly, for everything that follows.

Mindfulness, the practice of being present, is a valuable tool that strengthens self-awareness, self-management and empathy (emotional intelligence). Having a high emotional IQ is linked to long-term success and according to Belinda H. Y. Chiu, author of the book The Mindful College Applicant, it can also help you through the college admission process. The article linked below is a Q and A with Chiu, highlighting ways to cultivate these important skills during this crucial time.

Article referenced below from Inside Higher Ed, published January 13, 2020 written by Scott Jaschik

‘The Mindful College Applicant’

College admissions has had a tough year of scandal and embarrassing headlines. Belinda H. Y. Chiu offers a solution: for college applicants to be more “mindful.”

Drawing on her experience in the high school and college sectors, she outlines her vision in The Mindful College Applicant: Cultivating Emotional Intelligence for the Admissions Process (Rowman & Littlefield). She responded to questions about the book via email.

Q: This past year has seen a college admissions scandal and plenty of other reports of admissions favoring the wealthy. What makes you think higher education is going to change?

A: From ancient times in Greece and India to today, higher education — what is taught, how it’s taught and who is taught — has been constantly changing. And factors like wealth, class, gender and race have always been at play. Many institutions of higher education are making concerted efforts to broaden outreach and access by making standardized tests optional or committing to admit more students [who are] first in their family to attend university, and to strengthen financial aid by eliminating loans or tuition for qualifying families. Of course, there’s still much more to do to address inequities. But if change is the one constant, that means change is always possible.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed>>

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