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Virtual campus tour tips

November 24th, 2020

Learning online, socializing online … and touring college campuses online? Can a virtual experience substitute for actually being on campus? For the time being, we’ll have to say yes! Silver lining: you are continuing to master skills of resilience, creativity and flexibility and those skills will serve you well for a lifetime.

Image via Cappex

College admission offices are learning to be flexible as well. Virtual tours were available pre-pandemic, but considered sort of a side note. Now, virtual tours are often the primary introduction for prospective students.

So, admission offices have beefed up what they’re offering and have developed a tremendous amount of new online content to help you. Many offer not only a 360 degree view of the campus, but online information sessions, interviews and preview days, where faculty are available to talk about academic programs and students are on hand to discuss student life.

Gaining perspective on each school will take research and planning on your part in order to really maximize the opportunities available. The article referenced below from Cappex answers important questions about virtual tours and will serve as a guide as we continue to navigate this virtual world we are now living in.

Article referenced below from Cappex.com

For the majority of high school and college students, learning will be virtual this year. Some of the largest colleges and high school systems in the nation have already called it (the University of California, Chicago Public Schools… and on and on) and, hopefully at worst, virtual learning won’t extend past Summer 2021 — which is something that all seniors looking at colleges currently need to remember. 

It may not feel important now to know about the city your college is in, what the dorm rooms look like, or what services are offered on campus, but, at some point, it will. Don’t gloss over asking the important on-campus questions, as well as questions about academics and virtual capabilities, just in case virtual learning extends into Fall 2021. Fingers crossed we won’t have to cross that bridge, but let’s be ready just in case we do.

Read more at Cappex.com >>

Scholarship and leadership development opportunities for juniors and seniors

November 10th, 2020

While the bulk of scholarship opportunities are awarded through universities, some private scholarships offer not only funding, but amazing experiences and networks. Today, we highlight two opportunities that appeared in the Shrop Ed inbox recently.

The GE-Reagan Foundation is in search of high-achieving high school seniors with leadership, drive, integrity and citizenship. While many of our Shrop Ed advisees exhibit exactly these characteristics, please understand that this award is extremely competitive. The application is due by January 5, 2021; for more information follow the link: reaganfoundation.org.

Juniors searching for leadership development have another opportunity through the Bezos Scholars program. With the deadline also in January, now is a great time to learn about the program and begin the application process. Bezos is also a highly reputable and competitive program. For more information, please go to the Bezos website.

If you’d like to conduct a scholarship search and wonder where to begin, websites like FastWeb and Scholarships.com use your profile and a variety of criteria to match you to scholarship opportunities that are right for you. Warning: the application process can be time consuming and the criteria very specific so I always suggest reading the fine print to determine if it is worth your time to apply.

Sea change in college admission testing requirements

October 27th, 2020

The common theme of 2020 remains the same: stay flexible and creative as yet another change is happening in the college admissions world. This time, it’s affecting standardized testing and a lot of people are cheering.

Even before the pandemic there was a strong movement for colleges and universities to adopt “test-optional” admission policies, with research documenting that scores are strongly correlated to socioeconomic factors. Some colleges have even become “test-free!” Change isn’t always bad, and what we’re seeing this year is both necessary given the number of pandemic-related testing site cancellations and meaningful as a response to calls for greater equity.

Image via: Shutterstock/The Atlantic

Side effects

University of Georgia has reported a 25% increase in Early Action applications, possibly attributable to going test-optional. And on the other end of the spectrum, Florida public universities report declines in early application numbers, perhaps attributable to their ongoing requirement for standardized testing when test sites are so scarce and difficult to access. At this time it is difficult to say how other schools’ application pools will look by the end of the season but as new information surfaces, we will continue to share.

The article referenced below from EdSurge gives a great update on what is happening in the world of college admission when it comes to standardized testing. Many experts believe that this revision to admission policy may stick around for many schools after the pandemic subsides.

Article referenced below from EdSurge, written by Emily Tate, published on September 25, 2020

1,600 Colleges Are Now Test-Optional. How Many Will Go Back?

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has historically required prospective undergraduate students to submit a standardized test score as part of their applications. In fact, doing otherwise has never seriously been considered by the public research institution, says Mike Drish, director of first-year admissions.

Enter COVID-19.

With schools and testing centers closed across the country, COVID-19 has prevented at least one million students in the high school class of 2021 from taking the ACT or SAT exams. Even now, as testing has resumed—albeit with social distancing, face coverings and limited seating—access to testing centers is not equal, nor equitable. Many hundreds of thousands of students are still waiting to take an exam.

Read more at EdSurge>>

Pandemic makes filing early for financial aid advisable

October 13th, 2020

Families applying for need-based financial aid can begin completing FAFSA forms (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). As you’ll read in the New York Times article below, this year it could be more important than ever to file early, especially for families with changed economic circumstances due to the pandemic.

Image via The New York Times

The new FAFSA requires tax information from 2019 but due to the economic shift many families are experiencing, additional materials may be required to show a change in your financial situation.

Every college provides comprehensive information about the financial aid application process on its website. Please review these sites with care to determine which additional materials each college requires, such as CSS Profile or institutional addenda.

Article referenced below from The New York Times, published September 25, 2020, written by Ann Carrns

It’s especially important to apply early for financial aid this year, college experts say, because many families have suffered economically during the coronavirus pandemic and may have to take extra steps to qualify for maximum help.

That means families should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — the form known as FAFSA — as soon as they can. The form is a major gateway for financial help from the federal government, as well as from many states and colleges. The FAFSA for the 2021-22 academic year is available starting Thursday.

Read more at The New York Times >>