Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Juniors can still prep for college

I’m a college counselor. I work with high school juniors and seniors to help them find the best affordable colleges that match their hopes and dreams. Normally spring is one of my favorite times of year in my work life. Spring is when juniors are on college campuses, discovering things they never knew about themselves at schools they just met. Spring is when seniors are comparing their acceptances and making their weighty final decision. It’s an exciting season of hope, full of possibilities. It has now become one of the many things we hold at a safe distance.
Every day I check my list of juniors and seniors and think about who I should reach out to today. First and foremost, I want to express my compassion to all students who suddenly find themselves separated from their friends, teachers, coaches and all the people and activities that help define them. At the same time, I want to offer some ways that juniors can propel themselves forward in their college search and seniors can confidently come to their final big decision about where they will go to college. 
This time of year, thousands of juniors would be visiting college campuses. Now, most colleges are offering virtual campus tours. Stay on top of these offerings by visiting the websites of colleges that you are interested in and registering as a “prospective student.” In lieu of getting a feel for your colleges by meeting students who go there, sign up for Twitter accounts for sports teams, clubs, or activities that you are interested. You will get a feel for the culture of the campus via these unscripted conversations. In lieu of visiting the city or town your colleges resides in, use travel sites to learn about your potential college town. 
Juniors are worried about canceled test dates. Many colleges have gone test optional for the Class of 2021. Again, the most up-to-date information on this is on individual college’s websites. Check there to see what your colleges are doing. 
This time of year, seniors are often deciding between their top two or three schools. On-campus Accepted Student Days are key in making this most important choice. Now most colleges are offering virtual accepted student days. While not the same, these are critically important. Also, know that admission counselors and financial aid officers are available to you now. If you have questions, call them. 
I was on a webinar last week with UCLA and Davidson College admission counselors, and I was quite heartened to hear how caring and encouraging they were. If you find you are unable to make your final decision as May 1 approaches, call admissions and ask for an extension. They understand. They want to help. In short, I want students to know that there are new ways to accomplish what you need to do right now to keep moving the ball forward. This will pass and you will go to college, so please keep your eyes on the prize and keep moving toward your dreams.
Andrea L. Torello, M.Ed.
College Bound/Strategies for College
South Burlington

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