I hope this finds you well and staying socially distant and healthy while Covid-19 has camped out in our everyday lives.
If you are receiving this email it is because you are a past client, a current client, or have a college-bound teen in your midst. I want to update you on some things that are happening now and some things that you might need to prepare for as it relates to college admissions and college attendance as we live with the Corona virus.
I will cover two topics below:
1.) ACT and SAT Update: testing dates, test-optional and what it means
2.) Attending college this fall or in 2021: will it still happen?
I will make one announcement at the end of the email:
1.) StriveScan Virtual College Information Fair
Please read things as you see fit.
ACT / SAT Testing: Juniors And Late Testing Seniors:
June SAT's have been cancelled globally.
ACT will most likely cancel June tests.
ACT is still on schedule for the July ACT.
Important SAT details here:
Important Explanation and Analysis Here:
And here: https://www.applerouth.com/blog/2020/04/15/college-board-postpones-june-sat/?utm_source=Applerouth&utm_campaign=6e7aa21b16-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_27_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_41a7cbffe6-6e7aa21b16-108952349
Test Optional and What It Means
As you may be aware, due to the inability to administer the ACT and SAT during this spring, many colleges have gone "test-optional" for students attending or applying to college in the fall of 2020 and beyond.
Test-optional means that ACT / SAT test scores are not required for a student's application to college or university. Some schools have adopted a temporary policy for students attending this year only, while others have rolled out 1-3 year trial programs. Even better, some schools have adopted a permanent policy on choosing to remain test optional. Among the schools that have adopted one of the three policies above include University of California system schools, Case-Western (OH), Oregon Public Universities (OR), College of Wooster (OH), TCU (TX), Murray State University (KY), Tufts (MA), University of Washington (WA), Western Michigan University (MI), Tulane (LA), St. Edwards (TX), and Boston University (MA).
Be aware that test-optional does not mean test-blind. If a student is applying to a very or most selective school or program that is test optional, it still benefits the applicant to submit a test score IF it is a score that falls solidly within the upper and above average range of published test scores for that school. It can only serve to help you if you have a strong score. It does not hurt you.
Should You Submit A Score To A Test-Optional School?
The vast majority of students applying to very selective schools do submit their test scores for the sole reason that their scores are high. Submitting a lower than average score can sometimes hurt a student - yes, even if the school is test-optional. Additionally, test scores may still be required at test-optional schools for scholarship consideration or for select majors such as nursing or engineering. Be sure to research your schools' requirements carefully. If you are unsure of a school's policy, contact the admissions offices at each college.
Which Schools Are Test Optional?
The organization FairTest gives a thorough list of ACT and SAT test-optional schools. This list grows longer every day: https://www.fairtest.org Click on College Admissions and then Optional Test to find the list of schools. For a temporary list of test-optional schools for fall 2020 only: Click on College Admissions and then scroll down Chronological Archive of University Testing Materials section and see: Colleges And Universities Temporarily Waiving ACT/SAT Requirements For 2020 Admissions Only
SAT Subject Tests
SAT Subject Tests requirements have also been softened across the country with almost no schools "requiring" them.
You might check out some updated SAT Subject Test information from the very credible Compass Test Prep: https://www.compassprep.com/subject-test-requirements-and-recommendations/
Should I Still Take an ACT or SAT Test?
Unfortunately the answer is yes. The majority of schools in the USA and Canada and beyond will require a test. Might you decide to only apply to schools that are test optional? Sure, you might. But I am rarely of the belief that an applicant should or could afford to limit themselves to just this group of schools.
What Test Date Should I Select?
If you are a junior or a late testing senior, I would take a test as soon as you are able to get an open seat at a local testing center. As stated, The June testing date for SAT has been cancelled. I imagine ACT will do the same in cancelling their June test. Please monitor the SAT and ACT web sites for the (July) release of their later summer and fall/winter test dates and sign up for those as well if needed. Seats will fill quickly.
SAT Tests will be scheduled for every month from September - December. ACT will be doing the same.
If you are unable to take a test before application deadlines, contact the colleges you intend on applying to. They know folks are experiencing tough times these days and that access to testing will be impeded. I know they will do all that they can to be of assistance to their applicants.
Will Testing Go On-Line?
Yes, eventually, but not yet. ACT has been developing a model to role out this September. The problem right now is that nobody knows what this rollout will look like. It was originally developed for on-line testing at a testing center (local schools) but that may no longer be practical as it requires loads of computers, trained proctors, security protocols, and now health safety considerations that have yet to be put in place. ACT announced on April 15, 2020 that they have an at-home version that is going to be ready for this fall and winter. SAT is also working on some form of on-line testing but there is no date as to when this will be ready to go.
Attending College This Fall? Or in 2021?
The landscape has changed immensely at colleges and universities due to Covid-19. Revenue has stopped save for some minimal government bailout money during this time period. Schools' investments and endowments have been hit hard. Some institutions were already in dire straits before the virus struck; now they are in the danger zone. The University of Wisconsin predicts that the Covid-19 financial hit will be around $100 million and the University of Minnesota believes it might cost the school $160 million by end of summer 2020. And, of course, if they don't open this fall, it will be even worse. While these two institutions will never go out of business (too big to fail comes to mind), they will lose an incredible amount of tax funded dollars provided by their respective state and federal governments. There will be pain. Most private schools don't have that kind of financial backing and those with lower endowments were already wondering how they will keep the lights on. Hiring freezes are in full force and cutbacks and firings are happening as well.
What this means to you:
Will schools open this fall?
While colleges and universities are planning to open, nobody has any idea if this will truly be the case. And if they do open, will they still be the wonderful, inviting, and exciting campuses that high school students applied to and were accepted to?
Things to look into:
- Is the notification date for informing the college or university you plan on attending still May 1? Many schools have moved the notification deadline to June 1. Check with your school as some will extend it even further if needed. Many schools are desperate for students so they will do whatever they can to make it as easy as possible for students to commit.
And for those who commit:
- Will classes be the same? Smaller? Larger? Reduced? Disappear?
- Will majors be offered?
- Will contact with instructors be the same?
- Will research be the same?
- Will internships be the same?
- Will student activities be the same?
- Will sports be the same?
- Will your NCAA eligibility be affected by current grading changes?
- Will your music instructor still be there?
- Will residence halls be the same?
- Will they shorten or increase the length of a degree program?
- Will they spread out the school year to include summer and January sessions more fully?
- Will the surrounding community be open for business?
- Can you easily and safely travel to and from home?
- Will there be such significant limitations that it will deeply affect your desired experience?
All of the above are fair questions to ask. And they are all questions the colleges and universities are thinking about as of this writing.
On-Line Instead of On-Campus:
What if the school does not open and it goes "on-line"?
Do you still want to spend between $25k and $80k for an on-line program? Your local community college or state school can take in a new freshman at a much lower price. In fact, many families are making the choice to forgo the traditional away-from-home college experience this year because the college fund account has been diminished, jobs have been lost, or because families want to see how safe we will all be during the age of Covid-19 and/or how schools will manage this crisis before re-committing to sending their children off to college. Are you among those who are reconsidering? Read below for some recommended next steps.
Things to ask your college or university:
* 1.) Scholarships and Need-based Aid
- You should find out whether the college or university intends to still honor the financial awards that were originally offered.
- Are these financial offers (still) guaranteed for four years?
- If the student chooses to defer and start school mid-year (January 2021) or in the fall of 2021 can they still count on scholarships and need-based awards?
- Some schools are going to bend over backwards to keep their classes.
2.) Transfer Credits
- If a college can not open this fall due to Covid-19, will the school accept transfer credits if a student takes classes elsewhere or on-line?
- Will the schools limit the number of transfer credits that will be accepted?
- Will the student be considered a freshman or a sophomore transfer?
- Will all the classes taken elsewhere transfer to your final destination college or university?
** 3.) Appealing Now For More Financial Aid
If a change in health, income, job status, investments and savings has affected you in a significant fashion, it might be time to present your newly altered financial landscape to colleges and universities in hopes that more financial support can be provided. If you should choose to request a reconsideration of your financial aid (both merit-based and need-based), you will very likely be asked some detailed questions and will need to provide proof of your changed economic status. To learn about your school's process for appeal, please visit your school's financial aid web page. If you are unable to find information this way or through a Google search, reach out to the admissions representative for your child's high school and ask them how to proceed with an appeal.
(This is where previously establishing a good relationship with the admissions rep comes in handy.) You can be sure that colleges and universities are getting many appeals these days so my suggestion is to act quickly.
4.) Money Back Guarantee? Maybe Not.
If your child does head to school in the fall and the school then has to shut down with students on campus, will the school provide some kind of refund? And how much will it be? Will they guarantee it? Will it be for room and board? Will it cover tuition? If refunds are given, I recommend taking cash instead of having the funds credited to the student account for later use as we do not know if and when schools will re-open. There are already Covid-lawsuits filed by students seeking refunds from higher educations institutions including Liberty University and the University of Arizona public universities.
* 5.) Can I Defer For A Year?
Should a student choose not to attend school for health, safety, or financial reasons, can they still attend their intended school after a year off? Schools have different policies on this matter. Contact your school's admission representative to find out where they stand on deferring for a year.
6.) Bottom Line: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
"Should I plan on attending college in the fall?"
If you still have the resources to pay for school and your kids will be safe then my answer is yes, plan on their attending college in the fall. Wouldn't it be great if our children were able to realize their dreams of attending college as they had always intended and envisioned it? Wouldn't it be great if they finally move out of our homes? Let's hope this happens!
"Should I plan on not attending college in the fall?"
The answer is also yes.
In these times we need to plan for the best and prepare for the worst. Discuss as a family what the alternative looks like if your college or university does not open in the fall. Will the student work? Will they attend community college? Will they attend school on-line? Will they attend a different four year institution? What might the time away from their target school look like?
* If you think you might have to defer, don't decide this just yet. Give it a little time to see how things proceed over the next 2-3 months.
** If you need to ask for financial reconsideration, I would do it right now.
Friends, while I am a college counselor by trade, I am also a parent of two college-bound teens. I have a freshman in college whose school closed early due to Covid-19. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school who has her heart set on attending college this fall. And while I am planning for both of my children to attend college in August of this year, I am also preparing for the eventuality that schools will not open. And if they do open will they be able to provide the original experience that we wanted for the price that we originally planned to pay? More importantly, will my children be safe? Until a vaccine is invented, we will be forced to keep that firmly in mind.
A Phenomenal Virtual College Exploration Week
StriveScan, the college fair scanning app and fair data management company, has put together a most excellent on-line (virtual) college exploration week for juniors (and younger), Monday, April 20 - Thursday, April 23. Meet with admissions officers, attend over 90 presentations, hear from 300 plus colleges from around the world who will be in attendance and presenting. It's all free! Check it out here and sign up now.
Click the link https://www.strivescan.com/virtual/
1.) Scroll down to Student Registration
2.) Scroll through the sessions, find something you like and
3.) Click on Student Registration for the session for which you wish to attend and sign up.
If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to contact me.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My phone is 630-287-1958.
Take care and keep your distance.