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College Admissions and the Coronavirus v.2

April 17, 2020

Since my last newsletter a few weeks ago, a lot has happened to impact high school and college students and their families.  Students – and all of us -have never experienced anything like this 2020 pandemic.  With schools closed and all events canceled, normal life has ground to a halt.  The closing of all high schools means no athletics, clubs, proms, graduations, or any other social event.  This is a big loss for many students and families.  Juniors considering college are contacting me with questions about college visits, SAT, ACT, and how much the admissions process has changed.  Seniors, who have been accepted, are wondering about summer orientations or how to virtually visit a college one more time before making that all-important decision. And both high school and college students are forced to navigate online learning, many for the first time.

And, for all of us, it is important that we take care of ourselves, wash our hands, wear our masks and practice social distancing.  I am also concerned for our mental health and have found, for myself, the importance of staying present in the moment.  This is so much easier said than done.  We are definitely living in unsettling times.

I have compiled information to answer many, but not all of your questions about the most-current changes in the admissions process.  I have also compiled a list to prepare yourself for the college season, while staying safe.  Finally, I am offering you my suggestions to support each of us staying mentally healthy during this time.  I hope you find all of this information useful.

If I can help you in any way with any aspect of the college process, please call me at 240-285-1920 or contact me at


As of 4/15/20, the ACT and SAT test for June has been cancelled.  Both companies announced more testing opportunities in the fall as well as the option of taking an online version of the exam, beginning in September.  There are many questions about the online versions, including the lack of validity and independent research on these online tools, as well as the security of the test.  None of us would want our child’s test scores to be invalidated due to security concerns.  College admission, high school and independent counselors are also apprehensive, citing concerns over whether the online tests do measure what they say they are measuring.

Test Optional Colleges

Over these past two weeks, many more colleges have opted for a test-optional policy, not requiring students take either the SAT or the ACT.  To find the latest list of schools adopted a test optional policy, please check:

AP Exams

The AP exams will now be offered online and will last only 45 minutes.  The revised AP exams will not feature content from the end of each course syllabus.  All of the exams will be open book, as students will be testing from home.  Students should log on 30 minutes before their scheduled exam time to make sure they can access the testing platform.  Make sure you have everything you need, such as calculators, equation sheets (which can be printed from AP Central), pencils, textbooks, and notes. Most open book tests are not easy.

College Prep during Covid-19

Usually, there are numerous ways for students to improve their resumes and prepare for the college application season, such as playing team sports, volunteering in your community, attending a college summer program, working afterschool jobs, visiting colleges, or college fairs.  However, most of these opportunities disappeared with the pandemic.  Are there opportunities that students can still take advantage of?

Right now, staying healthy and completing online class requirements are keeping many students busy.  For those who wish to do more, there are several college prep possibilities that can be done while staying at home.

  1. Let the colleges on your list know that you are interested in their school. Many schools consider this ‘demonstrating interest,’ which can be a factor in the admission decision.
    • Attend virtual college tours and information sessions. Check out the college’s website for opportunities.  Make sure to register.  Some colleges even have live Zoom chats that students can do with admissions’ counselors.
    • As you are reviewing the college’s website, jot down any questions you have and take advantage of this time to touch base with admissions and even the academic dean in charge of your program.
    • Strive Scan ( is one example of a virtual college fair with over 300 colleges participating.
    • If a college interview is a factor in the admissions process, contact the admissions counselor and set one up early before all the slots fill up.
  2. Several online volunteer opportunities include:
    • Book Share is designed to help people with reading disabilities. You must be 15 years old to volunteer to edit, read a description or scan and proof documents.
    • Amnesty Decoders is an exciting way to use your computer or smartphone to help researchers sift through critical information. Volunteers are from around the world and help locate and expose human rights violations.
    • The Zooniverse offers an opportunity for students to help out with important research. You would select a project that interests you – such as nature, space or the arts – and begin.
    • Be My Eyes is a free app connected those that are blind or low vision with sighed people. You will have the opportunity to help people with disabilities manage daily challenges through live video calls
  3. During this time, you can explore learning something new, such as a new language, using apps such as DuoLingo, Babbel, or Pimlseur
  4. Take this time to learn about something you have always been interested in. Check out You Tube for videos on anything you want to know how to do.  You could also take a free class in a new subject through the apps Open Culture, Future Learn or Coursera.

Taking Care of Ourselves

Listed below are some strategies that I believe will help each of us to weather the fear and sadness we are feeling during this pandemic.

  1. Honor your feelings – You have every right to feel as you do at this time.  You can’t see your friends, your prom and graduation has been cancelled, and your summer plans have vanished.Your feelings are valid, regardless of how others may react.
  2. Finding balance – It is important to maintain some sense of normalcy and balance now. Maintaining a daily schedule and routine will help with that.
  3. Be Grateful – At the end of each day, before I fall asleep, I mentally list all that I am grateful for. My list is long, as I’m sure, yours’ is also.  Reminding yourself daily of the gratitude you feel will help you to keep some perspective.
  4. Focus on what’s under your control. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer, and wear masks and gloves when going out.  Each of these small but mighty actions has already helped to flatten the spread of the virus in many places.
  5. Become a Zoom expert – The technology you are using in your online classes will very likely become more commonplace in the future. Become familiar with how these online platforms work.
  6. Check out YouTube – Have you ever wanted to know how to change the oil in your car, or bake bread, or sew? There is a video on YouTube that will teach you just that.  And, now you have the time.  So, go for it!
  7. Staying healthy – Exercise, sleep and good nutrition are as important now as ever. They will help to keep both your spirits and your immunity up!

If I can help you in any way with any aspect of the college process, please call me at 240-285-1920 or contact me at