A Letter to Parents & Students of Class of 2020
Submitted by Rebecca Field, College Counselor
Dear Parents & Students of the Class of 2020:
Firstly, know that I am thinking of each and every one of you. I hope that you are staying safe and healthy. Keep on washing those hands!
Secondly, I know that you are continuing to hear from colleges with admission decisions and are thinking about where you'd like to attend next year. (Remember to keep checking your portals and informing me of decisions you've received).
Many of you know this already, but in case you do not, I am a big believer in admitted students days, as they give you a chance to visit/revisit campuses, meet other admitted students, remind yourself about academic programs, and think more concretely about your upcoming decision. That said, many colleges are making the decision to cancel admitted students days in light of the current Coronavirus.
This means that you will have a different decision making process so that you can feel confident about where you choose to deposit by May 1, 2020 at the latest. Remember that you must deposit at your college of choice by May 1, 2020. There is no doubt in my mind that despite the current state of affairs, you can make a thoughtful, deliberate and smart decision. And, I am here to help you if you'd like.
Here are some tips that can help with that process.
- Virtual Tours: Many colleges offer virtual tours on their websites. Campus Reel offers virtual tours of more than 300 colleges. https://www.campusreel.org/
- Social Media: Facebook may not be your platform of choice, but most colleges have Facebook groups for admitted students. Join them to connect with other admitted students and read the discussion. If you "meet" someone you connect with, you can always move the chat to your preferred social media. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are resources as well. Search for YouTube videos on your colleges of interest and you'll find plenty of students sharing information and experiences about their colleges.
- College Admissions Offices: Look for announcements for organized virtual tours and admitted student days from the colleges. Reach out to your regional admission representative via phone or email to inquire about their plans. Ask for their recommendation on how best to experience the college virtually. See if they can connect you with a student ambassador through Skype or FaceTime.
- Good Old-Fashioned Pros and Cons: Make a pros and cons list or comparison chart of the colleges' features and data. How does your financial aid package or merit scholarship award compare? What are the graduation and retention rates? Were you admitted directly into the business or engineering school etc.? If you took AP tests, compare how the colleges award credit. Were you admitted to an honors or scholars program with special perks? If you wrote a "why ______ college" supplement, re-read it to remind yourself about why you applied to that school in the first place.
- College Websites: Do another deep dive into the websites. Look at curriculum requirements and co-curricular opportunities for your prospective major. If you're undecided, investigate advising resources for students with undeclared majors. Head to the section on student life and learn about student organizations and club sports.
- Data Resources: If crunching numbers is your thing, Google "XYZ College Common Data Set" to explore data about admissions, graduation rates, faculty, costs and degrees awarded. Other resources for data include www.collegedata.com and https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/.
- Have a Learning Difference?: Reach out directly to the learning support office on your campus(es) of choice. Talk directly with counselors there. Use the list of questions I've uploaded to College Planner Pro to determine whether the support they offer is the support you need.
- Interviews: Turn to older peers, neighbors and family members to ask about their experience if they attended colleges you are considering or ask if they know current students at those institutions with whom you can connect. Arrange a phone call to discuss their first-hand experience.
- You Make College Great: Know that one of the most important determinants of your college experience is you, and what you make of your time there. Trust that you can have an amazing experience at any of the schools you're considering. There are so many opportunities available to you on a college campus. Your experience really depends on what you decide to make of it.
There really is a wealth of information available through virtual experiences so grab your laptop and cellphone and immerse yourself in research and discovery.
And finally, remember that I am here to help and support you - as are your parents and teachers. Take advantage of the support around you and feel confident in your ability to make a sound and wonderful decision for yourself.
Sending you good health.