We’re seeing the ripple effects of Coronavirus across our communities in new ways every day. To support public health, we’re suddenly faced with altered schedules, canceled events, and unprecedented school closures. Some colleges have ended their semesters early. More than one million K-12 students have been impacted by schools closing their doors for extensive breaks. Even national college-entrance exams are experiencing a disruption. The College Board announced earlier this month that they were relocating or canceling scheduled SATs in cities most heavily affected by health concerns. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to disrupt your college application timeline. Whether you’re a junior in the middle of testing season or a senior waiting to make an acceptance decision, virtual college prep is one option to ensure you keep things moving forward.
If you’re scheduled to take an upcoming SAT, you can find up-to-date information about testing-center changes and test cancellations here.
Flexibility Is Your Most Valuable Tool
Regardless of where you may be in your academic journey, the sudden deviation from the norm of classes, teachers, and friends can pose some big challenges. If you’re a high school student working through a carefully plotted timeline for college admission prep, the recent turn of events may be a significant source of anguish and confusion right now.
Fortunately, it’s still early enough in the spring testing season that it’s possible to find wiggle room in your plans. Yes, it may feel overwhelming to think about making any major changes to a timeline you worked hard to develop. However, that doesn’t mean your college admission plans are now in a state of disrepair.
Start by taking a look at your big-picture goals. From there, figure out where you can make adjustments to account for this interruption, such as a cancelled college-entrance exam. Solutions might include continuing to prep and practice so you’re ready for summer exams, doubling up on prep once the school year ends, or putting in extra weekend hours to stay on track for upcoming AP exams.
A more flexible approach to reaching your admission goals might lead to new opportunities along the way. Whether keeping up with coursework, building your college list, or exploring new test prep methods, digital solutions can close the gap. If you’re a senior, there are innovative solutions for your timeline, too. Keep reading to learn more.
Looking for options to continue your SAT or ACT test prep? Join our free virtual drop-in class here.
Virtual Study Sessions
Taking current health recommendations seriously means more than empty classrooms. It also alters how we spend time with friends, tutors, and our community outside of school. While nothing can quite replicate a face-to-face gathering, that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to total isolation.
Use a virtual study session to connect with classmates instead. There are plenty of options for bringing your peers together, even when you’re far apart. Try staying active in a group chat, or setting up a weekly Zoom video conference. Tools like Google Drive, designed to support real-time virtual collaboration, can be an asset for digital study groups as well.
Regular virtual study sessions help you stay accountable as you work through self-led lessons or assignments. When things return to normal and schools reopen, you won’t feel like you’re behind the curve.
Explore Colleges Online
Building your college list might sound like an impossible hurdle at a time when travel is severely limited. However, your first tasks for this project shouldn’t take you any farther than your desk chair anyway. Exploring colleges online is a valuable form of virtual college prep.
Before you put together a list of colleges to visit, you should gather preliminary information to decide if it’s really a good match. Get in touch with your inner detective. Use a school’s website and social media channels to build your case. Start by uncovering how a school aligns around your application themes and interests. Take a look at their specific program info and faculty for your top areas of study. Seek out details about what daily life on campus might be like.
Then, combine this info with even more sleuthing. Look for school reviews and third-party school rankings, research alumni, and get familiar with academic resources you may use as a student. Investigate the school’s writing center, math lab, media center, and library.
Finally, take your work a step further. Reach out to professors, advisors, or current students with specific questions. Use this virtual college prep to piece together what each potential college has to offer and if it’s right for you.
Interested in learning more about test-optional schools? Start with this blog post about what test-optional means.
If you’ve already received an offer of acceptance but are still narrowing down where you’d like to attend, there are virtual options for you too. Typically, on-site college tours are a popular method for narrowing down your application list or making an acceptance decision. However, not everyone has the ability to plan a visit to each school they’re interested in even when the country isn’t facing a health crisis.
Virtual tours solve this problem. They’re free, accessible, and easy to work into your virtual college prep plan. Virtual tours enable students to “walk” through campus without ever leaving home. This method is especially useful to further weed out schools that aren’t the right fit.
Social Media Groups
Social media groups are an excellent way to connect with other students when you can’t meet in person. At a time when we’re being asked to limit social gathering, moving to online spaces can help replicate at least some aspects of a live community. Look for Facebook groups for prospective, current, or alumni students, or search for Reddit threads with insider experiences from your short-list of schools. You can even find colleges on Tik Tok to get a sense of how they’re trying (or failing) to engage students. Members in these groups will often provide more unfiltered perspectives about a potential college, which can make a big difference when you’re looking for an honest assessment of a college experience.
Online Test Prep or College Counseling
If your college admission timeline has been thrown off by a school closure or other disruptions, remember that there are a lot of ways to make up for lost time. There are also ways to maximize your current availability to continue moving your timeline forward.
One option is to shift your test prep online. You can participate in a self-led program at a pace that’s convenient for you, or work virtually with a private tutor. When you work with an experienced instructor who understands how to engage students, online tutoring is just as effective as a face-to-face session (and a lot safer for your health, too). You can also use this time to supplement your prep efforts with online exams or practice questions. If you’d benefit from additional guidance around the college admission process, scheduling a few sessions with a virtual college counselor might also be an ideal next step.
For more information about online test prep, explore our Livius Online offerings.
It’s important to continue being safe and proactive. However, the objectives you set for college admission and the plans you made for reaching them are still there. Keep studying, preparing, applying, and experiencing. When necessary, be flexible and make adjustments toward your end goals—there’s more than one route to get where we’re going.