This week is decision time for many Ivies and highly selective colleges and universities! COVID-19 has closed down many K-12 school districts around the world for the rest of the school year. If you’ve been following the directions of well-known books and/or chats, by now you must realize that your current college admissions “playbook” or plan may be ineffectual. What will high school juniors need to do as they continue their admissions journey and prepare for their senior year?
1. Plan, plan and plan.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else” – Yogi Berra
As the world around you changes daily, you will need to formulate a new plan, create a timeline and meet your goals. Deadlines are a crucial aspect of the college admissions process.
2. Make a balanced preliminary college list. Start your search by familiarizing yourself with many different colleges and universities and facilitate your research on the different options that are available. Visit the websites of the schools you are considering.
3. “Visit” colleges. Start to “visit” campuses. Review college websites, take a virtual tour, and learn more about student life by reading the student blogs linked there.
4. Begin to consider letters of recommendation. It’s not who is writing or what they are writing. It’s how they are writing about you in a meaningful way. Choose your recommenders wisely.
5. Standardized Tests. Plan your SAT and/or ACT timelines. Even though standardized tests are cancelled through June you should still plan for the future!
6. Grades. Colleges view grades with the utmost importance. Remember, your grades should come first. Colleges look at junior year grades to understand the academic abilities of a student. Junior year grades are the last full year of grades for admissions committees to look at in determining a student’s acceptance. A recent survey by the National Association for College Admission Counselors (NACAC) found that admissions officers gave “considerable importance” to grades in students’ college-prep classes. Even though your school is now providing online courses, take them seriously. From my discussions with admissions officers at several of the Ivies and highly competitive colleges, they will be closely reviewing your performance in these courses.
7. For BS/MD applicants. For many students, their internships and research projects have been cancelled. From my discussion with BS/MD program admissions officers, they “will be seeking bright students who, in these unprecedented times, show a commitment to the BS/MD track and want to be a doctor”.
8. Seek expert admissions advice. With the disruption in school schedules and so many schools closed, the challenge for high school guidance or college counselors to provide students with adequate college counseling has dramatically increased. In many private as well as public high schools, remote/online learning does not apply to college counseling, leaving many students to navigate the college admissions process on their own in a competitive admissions environment fraught with minefields. High school juniors and their parents need valuable advice from experts who understand the competitive admission process, as well as those who have long-standing professional relationships with college admissions officers.
My recent conversations with admissions officers have been informative and valuable. As an admissions officer stated; “The current COVID-19 pandemic will NOT negatively impact how we review applications this fall”. Another mentioned to me, “We still want students who are involved, academically motivated, who have demonstrated success and are willing to contribute to the future vibrancy of our campus community.”
“Admissions is a competitive sport! Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe
“We provide our clients access to our specialized knowledge!” – Dr. Paul Lowe
Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs. The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges, Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college: College Transfer Admissions Advisors.