Colleges adapt to assist with seniors’ decisions

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With in-school learning having been replaced by a remote learning module to follow social distancing guidelines, colleges provided online alternatives and resources to aid graduating high school seniors in selecting their college institution.

National College Decision Day was on May 1, leaving several seniors without the ability to visit campus orientations or tours to decide which college they will attend in the fall. As a result, several colleges turned to digital resources to compensate for this, providing webinars, virtual orientations, and virtual campus tours. Guidance Counselor Jeremy Wang commented, “I do recommend students use virtual resources… As long as you are careful not to give away sensitive and private information, such as your parents’ marriage status, your household income figures, etc., I believe it is safe to take part in the virtual events.” 

Many seniors expressed that the lack of opportunity to visit college campuses placed additional stress on decisions.

Senior Cathy Choo reflected on the timing that usually existed around decision day, saying, “A lot of the time, colleges fly you in to see their school and see activities that are usually offered and in general, just get a better idea of the school environment…Without this, it made my decision a lot harder because I didn’t know what I was getting into as much since doing your own research versus being physically on campus are two totally different experiences.”

For instance, many seniors never visited their schools. Senior Elizabeth Duchan said, “It felt wrong to pick a school that I’d never even seen in person, and also forced me to evaluate things without that ‘gut feel’ that usually drives decisions.” 

However, she added, “I was lucky in that a lot of the colleges I was choosing between offered a lot of virtual events to try to bridge that gap. I learned the most through asking my specific questions to faculty and current students over zoom calls. There was also a wide understanding that though this wasn’t the way the colleges wanted to ‘sell’ themselves, they had to do what was best to make the most out of the situation.”

“I was faced with the daunting task of choosing a place to spend my undergraduate career at without even ever having visited one of my top choices—the one I ended up going with,” said senior Angelina Jimenez. “Choosing the school I did felt like a big leap of faith, though I think I made the right choice.”

In order to help juniors understand the coronavirus’ impact on next year’s college admissions, Mr. Wang hosted a live Q&A session discussing college essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, and what to consider when researching colleges. Mr. Wang said, “I enjoyed ‘meeting’ our junior year students, and was touched by their enthusiastic participation. Though I felt my Q&A was a bit too short. I wish I had more time to answer more students’ questions. I would do it again.”

Junior Ali Boivab, who helped organize the aforementioned event, said, “Coronavirus has impacted our lives in all aspects including the college admissions process. The goal behind creating ‘College Talk with Mr. Wang’ was to truly give our juniors a chance to get a glimpse into the college process. We also hoped that the session would excite our juniors to begin contemplating college and upcoming steps of their lives.”

As for using the online resources when looking for colleges to apply to, junior Emmanuella Borukh said, “From what I’ve seen, the resources are very helpful… It’s up to students to find out what colleges are giving what resources on what days on what platforms. I don’t think we are used to having to do so much research and that’s why students can easily get frustrated in the process.”