During these difficult times, educational institutions and organizations are trying to help alleviate stress and pressure by offering practical, sensitive and innovative solutions to logistical, financial and academic issues caused by COVID-19. Here are some recent updates in that regard.
College Decision Day: Extensions and Connections
Many colleges and universities have recently extended deadlines for students to commit to enroll. May 1 has traditionally been known as Decision Day, when accepted students confirm their intention to attend a particular school and to pay a deposit. This year, however, in order to be sensitive to the needs of students and their families, many schools have extended the date to June 1.
Many students are still in the process of finding means other than actual visits to learn more about the schools to which they have been accepted. In addition to the suggestions in my previous blog post, I have access to a cooperative service provided to IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) members, who are sharing firsthand resources that will help applicants make informed decisions. Please contact me if you would like further information.
Colleges may help to handle financial problems due to COVID-19
Colleges and universities have always had policies in force for families whose financial difficulties might affect their ability to pay college tuition and fees. According to NACAC, financial aid administrators in many schools will work with families whose incomes have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are several courses of actions for families whose financial situations have recently been significantly altered.
Students and their parents should contact their chosen university’s financial aid office to ask for further assistance. Be prepared with all necessary documentation, and be clear and direct about your situation and needs. Also, students or families that have not completed a FAFSA form may do so until June 30, 2020.
Testing Cancellations and Postponements
New York State Regents exams cancelled: The New York State Board of Regents has decided to cancel all end-of-year Regents exams and has clarified the requirements to receive a high school diploma. The New York State Education Department has prepared a PDF with details about the revisions.
SAT Tests: The College Board is continuously updating test dates, policies and practices on their "SAT Coronavirus Updates" page. The SAT originally scheduled for May 2 has been canceled. The next SAT is still scheduled for the first weekend of June.
ACT Tests: The ACT has rescheduled its April 4 national test date to June 13. All students registered for the April 4 test should receive an email from ACT with information and instructions for free rescheduling to June 13 or a future national test date. The ACT website will provide updates.
IB Exams (International Baccalaureate): The May 2020 examinations for Diploma Career-related Programmes have been cancelled worldwide, according to the IB website.
AP Tests have been re-designed rather than cancelled
According to a College Board survey of 18,000 AP students, 91% of those who responded wanted the option of taking AP tests rather than cancelling them. Many students indicated that they wished to have some control over their academic futures, especially when so many of their senior year activities, sports seasons, and events like prom and graduations have been cancelled. Students know that AP credit from colleges and universities provide a great academic benefit by allowing them to fulfill requirements and to take higher level courses sooner; in addition, students with a significant amount of credit may achieve second semester-freshman or even sophomore standing, which is a tremendous financial advantage.
Therefore, the decision was made to re-design the AP exams for this year only. Trevor Packer, head of the AP program and leader of the Instruction Division of the College Board, presented a webcast that clearly explained the reasons, format, and anticipated administration of all 38 AP tests.
Any students who will be taking this year’s AP exams should be aware of the following:
AP Coronavirus Updates provides information for AP students, teachers and coordinators.
Traditional proctored exams will be replaced by 45-minute at-home online free-response tests, which will be held May 11 - 22, with make-ups offered June 1 - 5. Students worldwide will take each subject’s exam at the same time. AP Central lists the current Exam Dates and Fees.
Scoring will continue to be on a scale of 1 to 5. Colleges and universities that accept AP credit have agreed to stand by the test format and will honor the grades that the students receive.
Students will be able to take the exams on any device, including cell phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Any students who do not have access to the appropriate hardware or connectivity or who have limited data plans should reach out to their counselors or to the College Board, which provides a form for students to fill out by April 24 to request assistance.
Students who have documented learning disabilities or need for extended time in testing will be accommodated.
Since students will be able to refer to their books, notes and the internet, there will be no multiple choice or strictly content questions. Questions will be more like what the students have been practicing all year. For example, AP English Language will have a “Rhetorical Analysis” question; AP Literature will have a Prose Fiction Analysis; AP History courses will have DBQs (document-based questions), and AP Government and Politics will have an argumentative essay. The foreign language exams will have no reading or writing that require direct translation, since that could be done by Google Translate.
Students will have the option to hand-write and then take a screenshot of the essay and upload it, or they might type it and upload or copy and paste. The tests will be timed, with a few minutes after each question to place the answer. There will be a timer on the screen that can be turned on and off by the student, but it is advisable to keep it on in order to keep track of the time limits.
Students are expected to adhere to the prohibition from consulting with others, either personally or via social media. Sophisticated protocols and plagiarism software are to be in place to discover any cheating. Any students whose work is determined to be the result of cheating will be reported to all colleges and universities to which they have sent their standardized test scores.
Teachers will receive copies of their students’ answers by May 26. They also may monitor the students’ responses to ensure that it is their own work. Teachers will be allowed to use the exam responses as they see fit as part of the students’ grades (finals, quarterly grades, major assignments, etc.).
Students who are taking AP courses have already registered for the tests. If they choose not to proceed with the tests, they should check with their counselors and teachers to determine the advisability of that course of action.
To help prepare for the exams: Opportunities for extra study, preparation and practice will be provided, including preliminary simulations of test conditions at home. The College Board has provided free online review courses, video tutorials, and online simulations of the exams. AP LIVE on YouTube will feature sessions given by experienced teachers in each course for review of the material and for guided practice answering questions for the exam. There is an AP LIVE schedule for students to consult. As of late April, there will be an at-home testing guide for students as well.
For the future: Colleges are already anticipating the need to help freshmen overcome any gaps in courses that are essential to the coursework they will be handling as undergraduates. Students may work with their advisers in their colleges in order to determine if they would be more comfortable re-taking classes like Calculus, even if they completed the course in high school, if that becomes necessary.
I will continue to keep everyone up-to-date as more information becomes available. If you have specific questions that you would like me to answer, don’t hesitate to reach out.
In a continuing effort to provide updates that will help us get through this “new normal,” here is some more information about changes, strategies and suggestions.
AP exams to be restructured: In order to do as much social distancing as possible and to administer the Advanced Placement test fairly, the College Board has announced that 45-minute free-response online exams will replace the standard format. According to AP Central, the exam will cover only topics and skills covered by most teachers and students by early March.
Since some students will want to take the test soon while the coursework is still fresh in their minds and others will want more study time, there will be two different testing dates for each AP course. According to AP Central, colleges “support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn. For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies.”
The full exam schedule and more details will be available by April 3. AP Central is planning to provide free resources to students through the exam periods. If students want to cancel their registration for any exam, they can do so at no charge.
NACAC is regularly providing updates about changes to policies and deadlines posted by colleges and universities. This very useful chart contains information about where, when and how schools are currently hosting admissions events, whether they have changed their candidate reply dates or deposit deadlines, how to contact each institution’s admission or financial aid office, and links to more information. Read the instructions regarding the filters, which explain how to narrow your search and sort results. This tool updates in real time as NACAC receives input. It is an excellent resource.
Virtual Tours: Many schools have turned their attention to fine-tuning their virtual visits. For example, Tulane University, which is well known for its enthusiasm for demonstrated interest, has created an outstanding virtual visit opportunity. Columbia University also offers an excellent virtual tour. Visit the websites of the schools you are considering to see if they have virtual tours as well.
Other ways to learn about colleges and universities from their websites:
Sign up for any online information sessions
Keep informed through each school’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, admissions blogs and podcasts, etc.
Learn if the school is offering individual opportunities to speak with admissions officers through Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone
Access the school’s student publications that are available online
Common App continues to offer answers to questions and assistance with disruptions specifically related to the coronavirus. Email them directly.
Having trouble managing your stress and anxiety? Read College Essay Whiz’s Guest Post by Melissa Cohen, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and author.
by Melissa Cohen, LCSW
Master's Degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and an Advanced Certificate in Social Work from New York University; author of ParentKnowledgy and STRESS-LESS...11 Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety and Live the Life You Want.
So, what’s going to happen next, what is everyone going to do, what does this mean for my future, for my family, the economy, what about college, graduation...and when will it end? These are just some questions you might be asking yourself and can’t get out of your mind.
If you find yourself feeling scared, stressed and anxious about what is going on, you are not alone. Fear of the unknown, panic and worry are normal inner alarms. They keep us safe and help us survive. They warn us of danger and cause us to find ways to protect ourselves. In the case of COVID-19, even though we have been following precautions and practicing safe behavior, rapid changes have put us all in a situation that we could never have prepared for. Most of us are experiencing more stress and anxiety than we’ve ever felt before, and because of this, we do not have the tools and strategies to help calm our fears and protect ourselves.
It is important to stop and think about what will help you the most. Here are some suggestions:
1. Refocus on what you can control. Take it one day at a time. Stay focused on your class work and don’t fall behind.
2. Set date markers so that there is something to look forward to and some time to reassess what you’ve been doing and adapt to things to come.
3. Try to stop reading too much social media. We think that knowing helps to calm us, but in this case, people are posting information that serves their agenda and might not help yours. Stay with 1-3 trustworthy sites and keep research to a minimum.
4. Redefine social interactions. Find safe ways to interact with your friends and family. For example, you might video chat, talk or text on the phone, have a virtual chat session, dinner, TV/movie or game night. Be creative!
5. Adapt and develop new routines or keep the ones that work for you. Get up, get showered and get dressed even though you are not going out. If you work, do your job. If you are in school, do your work.
6. Take an additional online class to get ahead or reinforce what you are learning.
7. Designate personal space for each family member. Discussing boundaries and expectations will help avoid silly conflict. Although conflict will happen, make sure that it is something worth arguing over. Don’t hold grudges – everyone is stressed.
Most importantly, acknowledge your feelings and talk about them. If you feel that you need professional help, reach out to someone. Psychotherapists are conducting HIPAA- compliant video sessions, but you need to find someone in your state.
As we all are adjusting to what may be the “new normal” for a while, you can be assured that many reliable sources are making every effort to keep you informed about changes in procedures and policies regarding the college application process.
Some recent updates:
Standardized testing dates: NACAC continues to offer insights and information about cancellations and rescheduling of standardized tests.
The May 2 SAT has been canceled. Makeup exams that had been scheduled for March 28 have also been canceled. Dates for future tests will be determined at a later date. Registered students will receive refunds.
ACT Tests: ACT has rescheduled its April 4 national test date to June 13 across the U.S. All students who had registered for that test date will receive an email from ACT with information about the postponement. They will also get instructions for free rescheduling to June 13 or a future national test date. The ACT website will offer frequent updates.
AP classes and tests: AP Central has offered a great deal of academic support for schools in order to complete the requirements of AP courses. As of now, they are working on solutions that may allow students to take AP tests at home. That will depend on the situation in May. If schools are open in May, exams will still be given May 4–8 and 11–15, with late testing scheduled for May 20–22. According to AP Central: “If a school is already closed or needs to close in March or April, AP makeup testing dates will be available.”
Look for updates by March 20 on testing and extensions on portfolio submissions for AP 2-D Art and Design, 3-D Art and Design, Computer Science Principles, Drawing, Research, and Seminar courses.
Some colleges may extend deposit dates: Accept Group has created a list of schools that have recently moved their deadlines for sending deposits for incoming freshmen to June 1. Refer to your college’s websites and postings for updated information.
Common App Support: Common App is monitoring the situation and has recently indicated its support to students and counselors. Support is available 24/7/365. Read this message from the Common App regarding the virus. They have many resources and answers to questions.
Please know that I am here for you in these difficult times. I am monitoring decisions, changes and cancellations which I will pass on to you. If you have specific questions or concerns, please let me know.
COVID-19 has not only uprooted our daily lives and changed our personal choices. It has also had a tremendous impact on our decisions about the future. As we cope with trying to stem the tide of this health disaster, we must move forward as calmly and optimistically as we can. College Essay Whiz has been keeping abreast of the myriad of announcements and changes in this uncharted territory. Here is an overview of what you should know, watch and act upon.
High School Seniors: If you’ve recently been admitted to a college or university, the likelihood is that your school has cancelled in-person/on campus events. If you have not yet selected the school to attend next fall, take advantage of virtual tours offered by the school and read online resources about the school’s advantages and facilities. You might also want to contact current students and recent graduates who might be able to answer your questions. Please check to see how and when events for admitted students will be rescheduled, streamed, etc. Individual schools are quickly shifting to online programs and platforms.
News changes fast these days, so be sure to check college websites and social media postings. If you have a college ID through the school’s portal, check it frequently. All colleges and universities are scrambling to put online learning into effect for their current students, deal with graduation options, and handle all kinds of issues that have arisen as a result of the coronavirus. Be patient. Don’t expect immediate answers.
Some schools are extending dates for deposits, housing forms, etc. Read all of your emails and notices.
High School Juniors: As you’re all aware, many March 14 SAT sites were closed and tests were canceled; the next tests are currently scheduled for May 2 and June 6. The ACT Exam scheduled for April 4 may be canceled or modified as well. Keep in touch with your counselors; go on Collegeboard’s Page on Coronavirus Updates for information about SAT and SAT Subject Tests. Visit April 2020 National Exam COVID-19 - The ACT Test for ACT updates. In addition, you can sign up for texts or emails to notify you of ACT changes.
Obviously, you shouldn’t expect to plan visits to colleges and universities over the spring and possibly even the summer. NACAC college fairs are canceled for the time being. Please review NACAC Update: Coronavirus Outbreak for more information. College admission officers won’t be visiting your high school until the fall. Find out which schools are hosting online Open Houses. Learn about the schools remotely. Read. Ask. I will provide more detailed information as it becomes available.
High schools are currently transitioning to remote learning. Teachers are receiving quick training; it may take a while for things to run smoothly. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan Is Giving K-12 Schools His Video Conferencing Tools For Free and many teachers will be utilizing this software. Be patient. Once classes are online, be sure to follow all appropriate procedures for class times, turning in homework, online tests, etc.
Of course, many students are already facing the fact that their cherished activities like chorus, band, orchestra, school plays, spring sports, publications, school and social events are being suspended or canceled. For the time being, don’t worry about the impact on your future applications. The national emergency required drastic steps, and all colleges will be aware of these difficult disruptions. It is more important for all of us to be safe and to do our part to flatten the curve by limiting social interactions.
AP exams scheduled for May may also be affected. According to AP Updates for Schools Impacted by Coronavirus, “The AP Exam administration remains as scheduled for schools that will be open on May 4–8 and 11–15, with late testing scheduled for May 20–22.” If schools remain closed for a longer period of time, decisions have yet to be made. Check that site frequently for more information.
Regarding the New York State Regents exams in June: Nothing has been announced yet, but I will keep you abreast as I learn specific information. In the interim, Coronavirus: School Health Services: NYSED is a good resource to check out about any New York State educational decisions.
These are trying times. All of us are learning new ways to deal with this crisis. It’s important to minimize risk and to respect everyone’s feelings and fears. Since college students have been sent home to finish the academic year or in many cases, their entire college career, their lives have been terribly and suddenly disrupted. Companies like U-Haul offer 30-day storage free for college students who must suddenly move out, but for the most part this unplanned and unforeseen circumstance has caused huge difficulties to students who have financial need, rely on work study, or live outside the U.S. Research facilities are closed; students are uprooted from study abroad; social life and relationships are abruptly cut off. All of this will cause extreme emotional difficulty.
Families will need to help each other in ways they may never have considered. Parents may still have to go to work; siblings are all home from school and are cut off from activities; restaurants are closed or off-limits. You will need to create plans and schedules to share shopping for food and supplies, cooking, filling the time gaps, helping each other with homework, etc. Most of all, be patient, understanding and supportive.
Below is a list of more helpful resources. In the meantime, be safe, be well, and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need to.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC Online Newsroom
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Fact Sheets and Print Resources
U.S. State Department Current Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019
World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease 2019
CNN Social distancing doesn't have to doom your weekends. We have ideas