College Prep in the Age of COVID

Seniors scramble to find colleges amid the pandemic.


The majority of us can agree that we never thought or even imagined we would be alive for a global pandemic. We’ve all learned about pandemics in history class, like influenza, the black plague, the bubonic plague, smallpox, etc. As we watched videos and read textbook chapters about plagues affecting the word, we never thought much about what would happen to our modern world if something like this were to happen. The pandemic has had a significant effect on high school students who are currently preparing themselves to enroll at their dream colleges.
Students have struggled with college tours being virtual, SATs/ACTs constantly getting cancelled, and not being in the school building to get direct assistance from teachers and counselors. A few seniors have responded to how they have been preparing for college and what has or has not been beneficial for them in the college decision process.
“Virtual college visits truly aren’t the same,” Tori Vandenberg, a senior, said. “It doesn’t capture all of the ideas that an in-person tour would give. You aren’t able to get a feeling for the size of the campus, or go inside lecture buildings.” Despite the efforts colleges are making, the college decision process is much more stressful and challenging.
As all students know, prior to this pandemic, most schools required you to submit your score for the SAT or ACT. Most students can concur that these tests are not anyone’s favorite. Not only do they cause students to feel anxious, but they are a poor representation of who you are as a student in school as well as outside of school. Students spend generous amounts of their time preparing for these tests in hopes to receive a score that they are aiming for, but with schools being closed, sessions have resorted to being virtual. Some students shared what alternatives they have been utilizing to study for the SAT/ ACT.
“Khan Academy has been one of the most helpful resources to study for the SAT/ACT, and since it’s designed by the Collegeboard, you know that the set up of the tests and types of questions asked will be similar to the real test,” Lauren Fisher, a senior, said.
Fisher, along with many other high schoolers, responded with the same answer: Khan Academy has been the most beneficial resource.
The class of 2021 has absolutely taken a hard hit from this pandemic. Not only has their senior year been partially stripped away, but it has been tough adapting to an entirely new application process; learning how to structure college essays, beginning the steps of gathering everything required for college applications and much more.
However, senior Will Kelley feels that counselors and teachers have been very productive and supportive with making it a priority to provide help for students. “Even though they haven’t been able to physically guide us through the process, counselors and teachers have been reaching out to students by supplying them with resources through Canvas, which has been extremely helpful,” Kelly said.
Some schools have even come up with virtual lessons for seniors with their English teachers in case they have English class in the second semester.
This access to new resources helps students feel less alone, knowing they have 24/7 guidance and assistance from counselors, teachers, and administrators.