How the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Impact High School Juniors

Our Facebook Live with Jeff Selingo and Michael Horn discussing the impact of the coronavirus on the future of higher-ed.

As the parent of a high-school junior, you’re probably wondering how COVID-19 is going to affect their college plans.

If it’s any consolation, everyone with high school- and college-age kids is asking the same question right now.

We here are keeping up with news–bringing you the latest information so your family can make informed decisions about testing, applications, tours, finances, and more.

In a recent Facebook Live with author and higher-education expert Jeff Selingo and author-educator Michael Horn, we discussed some of the changes that have and will be occurring that pertain to high school and college. Here is what they said.

 

Standardized Testing Changes

  • SATs for May have been cancelled, and June could be next, though The College Board may add testing dates for August and September. That decision has not been made yet. Be sure to check the College Board site for more details: https://www.collegeboard.org/.
  • ACTs for April have been cancelled, and June could be next, though they may add additional dates. Be sure to check their site for updates: https://www.act.org/.
  • AP Exams will be given online and will be 45 minutes in length. For each subject, there will be two different testing dates, TBD. The College Board is working on providing a solution for those who don’t have access to a computer or the internet. 

The questions will be free response, as opposed to multiple choice. Strict guidelines to prevent cheating will be in place. The exams will focus on what your child has learned through early March.

Some schools that were not already test-optional are waiving their test requirements, at least temporarily. Check with the school directly for the latest news. Keep in mind, even if a school doesn’t require testing, your child can submit results. This may help with merit aid.

As of April 12th, 2020 these are the colleges that have recently changed to test-optional:

Test-Optional Colleges as a Result of COVID-19

College
Amherst College
Anderson University (Indiana)
Babson College
Bethany College
Boston University
California State University
Case Western Reserve
Chestnut Hill College
Clarkson University
Colgate University
College of Wooster
Concordia University Texas
Davidson College (3-year pilot)
Drury University
Hamilton College
Haverford College
Indiana University Bloomington
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania
Middlebury College
Neumann University (2.5 GPA)
Northeastern University
Portland State University
Quincy University in Illinois
Santa Clara University
Scripps College
Shenandoah University
Trinity University, Texas (3-year pilot)
Tufts University (3-year pilot)
Tulane
University of the Cumberlands
University of Oregon
Western Michigan University
William Woods University
Williams College

 

Campus Visits and Tours /Making A List

The virus has impacted the college admissions process in a variety of ways, and will continue to do so. Today’s juniors will likely be the literal testing ground for these changes.

Since college counselors are unable to travel to visit high schools, they are now more readily available to answer your student’s questions than ever before.

Be sure to have your child reach out directly for advice. 

Michael Horn suggests that your student also make good use of social media (such as LinkedIn) to connect with people who’ve recently graduated from colleges or universities they’re interested in attending.

Ask them real-life questions about their experience there. They can also reach out to students who’ve recently graduated from their own high school—and who are currently enrolled in those colleges or universities.

Who better to tell you how a school has handled things during the crisis? 

For now, you may have to put off college visits until fall, but you can visit them virtually, on their websites, instead. To get a sense of the “voice” of the school, read their student publications, and follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

As the impact of the virus continues to shake out at schools, and perhaps financially, at home, your child may want to consider some alternatives to the more traditional path of high school to college.

Those alternatives may include taking a gap year, going to community college for the first two years of school, or looking at hybrid choices such as schools that blend living on campus with online learning.  

One of the big questions on everyone’s mind is: What if the spread of coronavirus happens again?

Talk to your teen about their comfort level in terms of being far from home if it does. Do they want to be within driving distance, or will they be okay if they need to fly—or, even worse, if they aren’t allowed to fly?

 

College Majors and the Economy

Nobody really knows how the pandemic will affect future careers, and the economy, long-term.

Michael Horn suggests that skills such as problem solving, communication, and collaboration will become more in demand.

(Can you say, “Liberal Arts skills?”)

Still, he says, your son or daughter shouldn’t “game the system,” but major in what excites them.

Jeff Selingo agrees: “There definitely are going to be shifts, we just don’t know where yet.”

The key, they both say, is to get experience in addition to schooling–take the opportunity to work on projects, in clubs, do internships, etc.

It’s the best way for students to advance their skill set, and be more attractive to future employers.

 

More Things to Consider

Some schools may decide to accept a higher percentage of their class early, hoping to lock in more students. Check school websites for updates if your child wants to apply ahead of the normal admissions timeline.

The economic impact of the virus means that financial aid may be affected in the future with less of it to spread around. Your child will need to take this into consideration when picking schools to apply to.

Many have inquired about whether course credit will be awarded the same way for the new, shorter AP exams taken from home.

Selingo says that’s not likely to be the case, especially among the more highly selective colleges, and that there will probably be a lot more discussion about this over the next year on campuses across the country.

Not all schools will survive the financial fallout of the virus. Encourage your teen to widen their search and look outside the box. And keep checking college websites. 

The bottom line? The entire admissions process is in flux. Colleges and universities are trying to rethink–well, pretty much everything.

That means: encourage your child to be flexible, think positively, and ask lots of questions. It could make a difference to not only them, but to other students as well.

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Melissa T. Shultz

Melissa T. Shultz

Melissa T. Shultz is a writer, and the acquisitions editor for Jim Donovan Literary, an agency that represents book authors. She's written about health and parenting for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, AARP’s The Girlfriend, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Next Avenue, NBC’s Today.com and many other publications. Her memoir/self-help book From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life was published by Sourcebooks in 2016.
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