Jill Haley: Advice for high school seniors, Class of 2021
It’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed these days when it comes to almost everything – college admissions is no exception. Here is some advice for high school seniors as they begin to think about applying to college in the middle of a pandemic.
1. Don’t panic. There is still plenty of time to get that college list together and begin filling out applications. Public colleges and universities in California have a Nov. 30 deadline and most private colleges are not due until Christmastime.
2. Do your research. College personnel have been brainstorming over the summer on how best to provide resources to prospective students. The result has been an impressive offering of virtual openhouses, workshops and seminars. All nine University of California campuses have published a list of their virtual offerings on their websites.
3. Check those college websites frequently as things are changing on a daily basis. Colleges are being creative how they provide information through social media and other virtual platforms.
Many colleges keep track of student contacts and see it as a sign that a student has demonstrated interest, which may be a factor in college admittance.
4. Get organized. Develop a spreadsheet of colleges you are interested in with their deadlines and requirements. Check for priority deadlines, which are often earlier than regular deadlines, for the best chance of receiving scholarships. Many campuses did not meet their enrollment goals last year and may be offering increased money to entice students to attend.
5. Take a virtual college tour. While some colleges have decided to reopen their doors to students, the majority of campuses have gone to virtual instruction and closed their campuses to visitors. All campuses have virtual tours now and these visits can be both “live” and recorded. During live virtual visits, students and parents can engage with a campus host as they tour the campus, asking questions as they go along.
6. Reach out to the college representative for your area. College reps reach out to students individually through text, email and calls. These reps are paid by the colleges and universities to recruit students and often have a say in who gets accepted. To find a college rep for our region, log-in to the college website and search for your person.
7. Begin brainstorming your college essays. As more colleges go test optional, the college essay is becoming more of a factor in deciding who gets into a college. If you need help, attend a virtual workshop, or hire an essay coach who specializes in college admissions essays.
The year 2020 will go down in history as one of our most challenging years ever. This has brought a lot of uncertainly about what the future holds. High school seniors may be feeling especially anxious as they head into the last year of high school and begin thinking about their future and college. I hope these tips will help some along the journey. I remain hopeful that college admissions will look a lot different a year from now.
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