The rapid spread of COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of millions of high school students. Classes are now held online; extracurricular activities and athletics have been cancelled; summer plans are up in the air; and standardized testing schedules have come into question. With so much uncertainty, it’s best to focus on what your child can be working on now to prepare for the college process:

  • Create a backup summer plan. Was your child supposed to study art history in Italy this summer? Or shadow a doctor at Johns Hopkins? Perhaps your program has already been cancelled or you are waiting on further instruction. Regardless, come up with a local, potentially “socially distant” contingency now.
  • Start your Common Application main essay. The prompts for the 2020 – 2021 application season have already been released by the Common App. Now is a fantastic time to start brainstorming potential topics and drafting your essay. You can learn more about how to get started on your Common App essay here.
  • Dive deeper into an academic interest. Have you always been fascinated by sociology or forensics or anthropology or astronomy, but have never been able to learn about these subjects because your school doesn’t offer the course, or the class just doesn’t fit into your schedule? Now is the time! You can find countless resources on EdX or Coursera to expand your knowledge in a particular field. You might even discover new fields that you didn’t know existed.
  • Engage in impactful activities from a distance. Do you play an instrument or speak a foreign language? Reach out to your social network and teach others; livestream a performance to those who are self-isolating. Start a blog and gain a following. There are ways to serve your community without leaving your house, you just have to get creative.
  • Visit colleges virtually. Virtual tours have always been available, but now they are more useful than ever. Almost all colleges will have a link to a virtual tour on their website, but you can access hundreds of virtual tours through YouVisit. Simply search for the university you’d like to tour, enter your contact information (very important so the school can document your interest) and get going! You can also learn information unofficially through CampusReel.
  • Speak with a former college admissions officer. While navigating uncharted waters, it’s more important than ever to have the expertise and experience of an independent college counselor. The impacts of COVID-19 may completely change the college process in the next year or two. Speak with one of AcceptU’s former admissions officers for advice on how best to plan for success. You can set up a complimentary introductory call here.

While we are in the midst of a public health crisis, it’s important to remember that we will also overcome this challenge. High schools students have had their lives turned upside down, but they will also return to normal. Now is the time for families to take control and to begin proactively planning. Doing so will make for a less stressful – and more successful – future admissions process.

About the author
Stephen Friedfeld

Stephen is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.

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