A Message to High School Students During This Covid-19 Summer

2020 has been a year of upheaval thus far! There have been many things that are out of your control: remote school, cancelled extracurricular activities, social distancing requirements, cancelled standardized tests, and a significant reduction in in-person summer opportunities. Remember that colleges will understand that these things were out of your control! Admission officers will account for the disruptions caused by Covid-19. (Check out this Washington Post article about what colleges want – and don’t want – to see from applicants in the Covid-19 era.)

However, colleges will still expect you to do something constructive during this challenging time. This is consistent with their appreciation for students who demonstrate a “growth mindset.” So, think about what you can do this summer to pursue an interest more deeply, or volunteer your time within your community, or advocate for a cause that is especially meaningful to you.

While many colleges are waiving test requirements for rising seniors, a good test score will strengthen your application. Rising seniors, if you do not already have a score you are happy with, talk to your counselor about whether you should use the summer to work on standardized test prep and take a test this fall or whether you should aim for colleges that are waiving test requirements and skip the ACT/SAT testing. Rising juniors, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the longer-term about which colleges will remain test optional or not, so use the summer to work on standardized test prep. It’s hard to predict how the future ebb and flow of Covid-19 will potentially disrupt future test dates, so aim to do your testing early — in November, December or early 2021!

Rising seniors, you should be finalizing your college list. Rising juniors, use the summer to begin researching colleges. Make sure you take the time to visit colleges of interest remotely; there are many resources out there with which to do this! Talk to your counselor if you are having trouble accessing these resources.

And, finally, read – for pleasure, for learning, for keeping aware of current events!

Here are 2 interesting pieces – a video and an article – that provide excellent advice to rising seniors, but are applicable to rising juniors as well.

Whatever happens this summer and fall, these uncertain times are a good opportunity to practice and embody characteristics that will be extremely useful to you in college – and in life, really! Adaptability. Compassion. Critical/Analytical Thinking. Discernment. Empathy. Self-reflection. Thinking outside the box. Creativity. Integrity. Independence.