As our coronavirus reality changes from day to day, Fall 2020 plans & decisions continue to shift on campuses throughout the United States – so flexibility is a key concept and we all need to embrace it. University of Southern California, who initially announced they’d be open for Fall 2020 for in-person classes, last week reversed their position and said most classes will take place online. Princeton plans to bring freshmen & juniors to campus for Fall 2020 and then send them home for Spring (online classes) while the seniors & sophomores arrive for on-campus classes for Spring 2021. University of Michigan says they will bring all students to campus for fall while offering a variety of learning formats to include in-person classes, online classes and a hybrid combination. The Cal State system meanwhile announced very early that all classes will be remote for fall. Will all of these plans remain the same over time? That is anybody’s guess, but the key word that ALL colleges are using right now is “flexibility.”
As this pandemic marches on, we all need to do our best to remain healthy, and be as flexible as possible when it comes to college expectations.
Right now it’s important that rising seniors (& juniors) REALLY take advantage of myriad virtual options that are widely available. Colleges are super excited to see students engage, and schools around the country are offering virtual events of all kinds – college tours, information meetings with admission officers, academic spotlights, faculty sections, student panels, etc. Getting on college mailing lists is important to do, and if you get an email from a college you are interested in, open it! Colleges use the “tracking information” they get from all of these events to gauge a student’s “demonstrated interest,” a key factor as colleges make admissions decisions.
It’s also important that students be able to articulate how they spent their time once COVID-19 hit, as many colleges will be curious to see how students responded when the pandemic upended normal lives and disrupted so many planned extracurricular activities. So spend your time well students and think about how your life has shifted.
As Alison Key, Admissions Counselor, of Vanderbilt University recently said “many of the components of your college applications are out of your control. So focus on the things you can control” – that means work hard on your college essays this summer, and know WHY you are applying to each school. To do that, you need to do a deep dive into the college websites and attend some virtual events to learn more! It used to be that only the lucky students were able to tour colleges around the country – now ALL students can access these opportunities, so by all means, do it!