March 15, 2020

What High School Students and Families Need to Know about COVID-19

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.

Helpful Resources:

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