The college admissions journey looks a lot different this year. In fact, the current pandemic has essentially upended the entire process for how schools select potential students. While the headlines and the news present a daunting picture when it comes to this year’s process, College Counseling Director Justin Fenske says there are still aspects of the process upon which students can count.
1. College visits.
“Campuses now are not representative of what school is really like,” says Fenske. He says with many campuses transitioning in and out of distance learning and numerous health and safety protocols in place, today’s college experience is much different than it was before the pandemic. While a visit will look different this year, there are still opportunities to learn more about a school. Fenske encourages students to “take part in virtual visits” or to adjust their visit timeline and wait until after they are accepted to visit a school.
Research remains an important aspect of the college admissions journey. Fenske says this year’s research should include several new components. “Pay attention to how colleges are handling the pandemic,” he says. He advises students to closely watch how colleges are treating their students and how they are responding to student needs. It’s also important to pay attention to the school’s financial status and whether or not programs are being eliminated. Fenske advises students to register for college updates and news alerts to ensure they have the latest information as it is released.
3. Soul searching.
As in the past, students should really consider their future goals. Fenske says it’s especially important now for students to examine what they want out of their college experience and go for precisely that. For example, there is an expectation that nationally more students will elect to attend a school closer to home due to the current situation. Fenske says this means for students who wish to go away for college there may be more opportunities to do so.
Fenske says now is the time for members of the Class of 2021 to work on their college applications. With changes to the admissions process, an application that tells a good story and provides a clear picture of a student’s academic and extracurricular experiences will be even more important for getting the attention of overwhelmed admissions officers.
Members of the College Counseling team, including Fenske, Shandi Fazely and Dr. Alan Newton, are monitoring the ever-changing world of college admissions. Fenske encourages families to reach out to their counselor for assistance or concerns. The team is also offering several opportunities to help students in the process.
Virtual Admissions Visits
This year, college representatives are logging in and participating in the Episcopal visits of the past, virtually. Fenske says because a virtual campus visit is budget friendly, the team expects more schools to connect with Episcopal students this year. For example, an Irish university recently expressed interest in a virtual visit with Episcopal juniors and seniors. Fenske says there are already more than 30 of these visits planned with many more expected.
Coffee with the College Counselors
The College Counseling team is also providing virtual coffee chats with families on a bi-weekly basis. Counselors will discuss topical issues and answer questions from participants. Fenske says this virtual format is actually proving to be popular because of the reduced time commitment it requires of families. See below for upcoming Virtual College Counseling Coffee event dates:
What is Test Optional Admissions?
September 17th at 10 am or 4 pm
Scholarships and Financial Aid
October 1st at 10 or 4 pm
Everyone in the world of college admissions is adapting to the realities of life in 2020. Episcopal students are fortunate to have a team of College Counselors to help them through the process. Students are encouraged to reach out to the counselors as needed to assist them with this important process.