These days, there are many things we cannot control. That lack of control with regard to our own lives can cause anxiety and frustration. One way to help is to make a plan and take charge of those things within our reach.
Typically, spring vacation week and weekends are a popular time to visit college campuses – for seniors who are making a final decision, and for juniors who are gathering information regarding where they would like to apply.
This year, and in order to give students more time to decide, some colleges have extended their typical deposit date, moving it back from May 1 to June 1. Check admissions websites to be sure. Many schools have also said that they will work with students in difficult circumstances. If you are facing challenges in committing to a college by the deadline, it is important to reach out now to the admissions office and let them know.
Some seniors are considering asking to defer for a semester or a year, if classes are going to be online in the fall (nobody knows yet what may happen in September). Colleges have deadlines for deferral requests: students accept admission and then follow the procedure to request a deferral.
Each college has its own approach and plan for granting deferrals. Usually, these are granted with a Gap Year plan in mind, for volunteering, work, travel, etc. This year, those experiences may be harder to set up, but can still be found, provided you are flexible in whether they will be in-person or remote. Keep in mind that a deferral, once accepted to a school, is a request – it is unclear how many of these may be approved, given the likely increase in requests.
As I always recommend, show colleges your interest!
Use the extra time this spring to virtually explore colleges and build your list, just as you would have done before COVID-19. It is risky to wait and hope that campuses will hold in-person admissions events this summer. Also, if campuses are able to offer tours, it is likely that summer jobs will be happening again too – it may be hard to get away to see all the schools you would like. Hopefully, life will be fuller in the fall and you may not have time to travel to a lot of campus visits.
College admission offices are offering virtual tours and information sessions. A student that signs up and “attends” these events will “get credit” for a campus visit, as most colleges keep track of these. Typically, a tour and information session will be offered just as if you were visiting in person. Some schools are also holding live events – all detailed on their admissions visit page. Parents may want to “attend” these events with their child, just as you would likely have done in person. I encourage students to take notes and keep them all in one place.
Another way to explore a college (and show your interest) is to sign up for their online newsletter and follow the school’s social media accounts.
Students of all ages can use this time to learn more about a possible field of study. Colleges may offer live or taped presentations from particular departments – health careers, engineering, education, the arts, etc. This is another way to improve your knowledge in a new field and also demonstrate your interest in a school.
There are many, many online classes, webinars, YouTube videos, etc., available these days to learn more about any topic of interest. This is a good time to dive in and see what is exciting.
The bottom line is that college admission offices are open and they want to hear from you!