Replay the WebinarThis Handout follows our March 29th 2020 Live Webinar. You can replay the webinar by clicking here or by clicking on the visual below:
Exams and Academics
- You still have plenty of time to prepare for and take your SAT/ACT. Continue as planned, unless you are facing significant hardship or illness.
- In the coming days and weeks, you will gain a clear understanding of what your school will attempt to provide. This is a work in progress for everyone.
- Gain an understanding of the curriculum for your coursework. What are you supposed to learn by the end of the year? Here are some tips:
- This is easier for the AP courses. College Board is free offering remote learning
- Use Kahn Academy to get a sense of the curriculum for all APs, math, science, history, government, economics, statistics, computer science. For English and languages, this is a little trickier.
- For languages, use online college-level courses to gain a sense of what should be completed each year, for example, search Spanish 2 USC and refer to the courses that come up. There is a Kahn Academy course on grammar.
- Purchase books online that will “fill in” where learning is not occurring. This is great for math and language classes.
Find Support/Create Structure
- To structure your study time:
- Use a timer. It forces you to focus and you’ll be more efficient.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique. The video on this website has a lot of helpful tips that are useful to your self-learning.
- Students: Ask a friend to do a biweekly status check with you. You each make a list of your homework and assignments each week and you check in twice a week to report your progress. If you are concerned about covering all of the material, go online to Kahn Academy and create an outline of all that needs to be done by the end of the year and support each other in getting to the finish line. Maybe you have to fill in where your teachers can’t right now.
- Parents: Is there a family member who can check in with your student or find another teen that would like to help.
- Tutoring companies can oversee the progress of your student and provide supplement learning where necessary.
Extracurriculars & Summer Activities
- Keep continuity through these times: Keep being athletic (weight training or running), keep up with your performing arts,
- Come up with your own DIY Capstone Project
- Research a topic that interests you, create something new each day/week, contribute to a real-life coding project through Github, design a product or a business, do home improvement or garden projects, start your own channel or podcast
- Take Courses
- Start writing your college admission essays
- Keep coding with Swift Playgrounds or GeneralAssembly (parents enroll) or contribute to a real-life coding project through Github (for advanced coders) – Recommended steps for beginners
- No more robotics? Build your own virtual rocketship on the Kerbal Space Program.
- Offer to tutor other students or help younger students stay on track.
Exams are still required at the top schools in the country and may help to indicate college readiness. A few colleges have added test-optional in response to COVID19: Case Western, Chapman, Univ. of Redlands.
In general, there is a growing trend toward test-optional admissions. Check this list. Seek advising if you hope to apply test-optional. This is worth exploring especially by students who can not afford exam preparation services and or struggle with learning challenges. If the exams do not present your abilities, provide an academic paper or project that illustrates what you do well.
- ACT exam dates: July, September, October
- SAT exam dates: possible pre-June options TBD, June, August, October
- Recommendation: Gear up for tests now: be prepared early so we can be flexible and adapt as circumstances change on the ground.
Many colleges have moved to drop the subject exam requirement: MIT, CalTech. Prioritize APs. Recommendation: Subject exams can show that you learned a subject so it is a good way to show college readiness if you have P/F grades on your transcript. If taking subject exams will produce significant hardship or stress, do not take them.
- Math2 and Literature are the most coachable of all of the exams.
- Timing: Take after the June exam date in August/September/October.
AP College Credit
The AP At Home Exams will provide a solid illustration of your learning and skill, so focus on doing well on those exams. You generally receive college credit for your AP exam scores. We don’t expect this to change. Focus on these exams.
- AP tests (45 minutes long) will still be held in May and be entirely free-response (Collegeboard has said they’ll release the exact format by April 3rd).
- Students will only be tested on material covered through March
- Two different testing dates tbd on April 3
- Not all AP teachers have elected to follow the order that Collegeboard suggests, so there may be content areas tested on the AP exams that your students won’t have covered in their academic courses.
Choose a College By May 1st
- Gather all of your notices of acceptance and waitlisting.
- Create your shortlist of colleges and add them to a spreadsheet.
- For each school look into the schedule of virtual events and tours.
- Respond to all important waitlisting: if you have been waitlisted to a college you would prefer to attend, reach out and show interest.
- Make a plan to decide by May 1st.
- College decision and deposit deadlines are mostly staying the same. A handful of small liberal arts schools and state schools are allowing students to make a decision a month later on June 1st and pay a deposit late on July 1st. Check NACAC
- Do your research!!! Know exactly where the college is located. Follow the tips below.
- Make a copy of this spreadsheet and compare your options.
- Weigh the options individually AND then discuss as a family.
Tips to Determine College Fit
Do Your Research
- Does the college have academic Integrity: Strong academic culture? Intellectual life? Availability of Professors? Honors program?
- Does college prepare you for the real world: Research opportunities? Strong liberal arts foundation in critical thinking? Hands-on career-building opportunities? Community service opportunities?
- Is there stability in the student body: not too much partying, warm friendly atmosphere, social balance
- Read deeply into Unigo and Niche student review websites. Read the student blogs and newspapers for each campus. This is a bit like reading a Yelp review, so keep it in perspective, but glean what you can. Are there any dealbreakers? The student body isn’t diverse? Students party a lot? As you go through reviews come up with concerns and questions you can ask of admissions representatives.
- Talk to students who attend now. Contact your high school counselor and get the names of students who are attending now. Parents reach out to your network to see if anyone knows someone attending the colleges you have chosen.
- To help you decide in absence of a campus visit, most colleges are offering: video conferences, virtual tours, adding social media platform live events. Some are offering videos of a preview day that already occurred, social media live events the opportunity to meet other admitted peers through a social media group.
- Join events and speak to admissions representatives. Make a list of the questions you have. For example
- What is a typical day like on your campus? Is it bustling? Quiet?
- How would you describe the student body?
- What do you like about your college?
- How do you feel that your college stands out academically from others?
- How do faculty engage with students outside of class?
- How does the college help students to explore major/career options?
- What opportunities are there to develop real-world skills?
Financially speaking, it may be hard to make a decision amid all the economic uncertainty? Here are some concrete steps to follow:
- Choose the school you most want to attend and pay the $200-400 deposit. It buys you peace of mind and extra time to research your options.
- Identify colleges on your list that have later reply deadlines: Are these schools more affordable to your family?
- Research more affordable options. Some colleges are still taking applications Some of my favorites: U of Hawaii, UMass Boston, U of Reno, Arizona State
- Keep transfer and spring enrollment in mind if finances are stable now, but you worry they won’t be later. Research spring enrollments such as UC Merced.
- Research community colleges away from home and near UCs or other colleges/universities you want to attend. Do you have a relative or friend you can live with? It offers students a more affordable experience of going off to college.
- Consider attending community college close to home. A community college education is a fantastic option. It is one of the most unique social experiences you can have in the classroom.
Financial Aid Awards
If you have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic now or in the coming months and you would like to have your financial aid award re-evaluated, follow this procedure
- Utilize the financial aid calculator of each college to determine if you are eligible to receive more aid.
- Contact the financial aid office of each college and ask how to make a financial appeal.
Re-evaluations may take time to process.