What I Know to Be True
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Let’s all take a deep breath. There is, undoubtedly, so much uneasiness in the world right now as well as much uncertainty about when the Coronavirus pandemic will pass. From my perspective as a college counselor, it feels a bit disorienting that for once in my career, I don’t have every answer that students are asking me about the admissions process. I have helped students apply to college against the backdrop of family tragedy, personal struggles, natural disasters, and financial strain, but the Coronavirus pandemic is quite different than anything that any of us have ever seen. Nevertheless, I would like to share what I know to be true, in the hopes of reassuring you during this unprecedented time.
First, we are all in the same boat – this is not just an issue facing only New York, the East Coast, or the United States. This is a global issue. You should feel reassured that from a college admissions perspective, we are truly all in this together, and that the pandemic really does level the playing field in terms of the affect this is having on every student. In addition, admissions counselors have a tremendous amount of empathy for what you are facing because they, in fact, are facing the same challenges and struggles right at the same moment that you are. When they read your applications, they will have a tremendous sense of understanding about what you had experienced this year as a junior.
Admissions offices understand that flexibility is important, and not only want, but need for everything to work out for the sake of their institutions. Many colleges have gone to test optional for next year’s admissions cycle because they don’t want to exclude applicants who were not able to sit for standardized exams. In addition, they respect decisions that high schools are making regarding changes in grading policies and do not want to penalize students for something that is beyond their control. The colleges are not eager to make life more stressful for you, but rather the opposite. They understand extenuating circumstances, and want to do whatever possible to help you to manage an extremely trying situation.
I can also say that this time serves as a unique opportunity for reflection, and to gain important perspective as a young adult. Perhaps you have noticed some things about how your community has responded to the pandemic? As you prepare to apply to college or decide which college to attend, what has this taught you about the type of community that you want to be a part of in the next phase of your life? What has this situation taught you about yourself, your goals, and what really matters to you? This terrible circumstance may serve to enlighten you and aid you in making sound decisions in the admissions process and beyond.
Finally, if you feel like you are not “doing enough” to enhance your chances of being accepted to college right now, please remember that as long as you are focusing on what is really important, then you are doing the right thing. Your physical health and your mental health matter most. To the best of your ability, focus on your home responsibilities, do what your teachers are asking of you, be in touch with family and friends and model good citizenship. That doesn’t mean solving the world’s problems, but rather to simply follow the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing and perhaps to keep an eye out for a neighbor in need. If you do encounter any problems with your remote learning experience, stay in touch with teachers and counselors so that they can work with you to address any challenges you are facing.
If you have any specific questions or concerns about your college search throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, please reach out any time.