The role of parents in the college application process is difficult to understate. That’s especially true in the age of COVID-19, which has created a significant amount of uncertainty around post-secondary admissions. As families adjust to the new normal of living with COVID-19, parental support is more indispensable than ever.
Some of the tasks that parents can help check off the list include the following.
- Set up virtual campus visits. With most states enacting lock down or social distancing policies, most in-person campus tours have been canceled. Many institutions have instead begun offering a wide variety of virtual tours and events that can give students a feel for life on campus. That these virtual “visits” signal interest in that school is an added bonus. Parents can help students sign up for events and follow through on these virtual interactions.
- Double check the application due dates. The due dates for applications and associated materials due this year may have been pushed back–but the degree of delay will vary from school to school. Many schools have already postponed commitment deadlines to June 1, 2020, and beyond. Parents can help their high school juniors or seniors keep track of the many, evolving application deadlines.
- Create a plan for wait lists. Because of the uncertainty introduced by COVID-19, many colleges have longer wait lists this year than is customary. That trend may continue into the 2020-2021 academic school year as colleges create contingency plans. As a result, parents should encourage their students to develop a solid plan for making wait list decisions.
- Line up letters of recommendation. Because the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted most academic and extracurricular activities mid-year, letters of recommendation from students’ teachers are crucially important. The spring semester is a good time to ensure students have these letters lined up or are in contact with teachers who have agreed to write recommendations.
- Double check financial aid options. Tuition-dependent schools will struggle this year, and as a result there may be less financial aid available. What was awarded in the past won’t be a reliable indicator of what schools can offer going forward. More than ever, check your financial aid and scholarship qualifications with the financial aid office at your prospective college.
- Look for activities your child can add to their application. Understandably, volunteer opportunities are scant these days (though they still exist!). Parents can encourage students to look for online classes designed to enhance their extracurricular transcript. Massive Online Open Courses, for example, are an easy and accessible way to increase your student’s academic participation.
- Encourage your child to reach out to admissions counselors at colleges. Now is a great time to get in touch with admissions counselors to find out what makes each college special or what your student can do to increase their chances of acceptance. Parents can encourage their students to reach out and make a good impression.
- Limit your conversations about college. With almost all high schools operating on a distance-learning model, families are spending more time together than they’re likely accustomed to. That is why we often recommend that parents limit their conversations about college to a single hour or so during any given week. That way, the conversation about college doesn’t become tiresome or overwhelming.
Your checklist for the new normal will vary, depending on your unique situation. If you have questions about how your family can best prepare for the college admissions process, contact a college advisor. If you want to know more, you can contact A-List to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.