You're almost there! Can you believe it? The seniors are finished, making you the oldest students at SFS - really you are pseudo-seniors :) What have you been up to this month - A LOT. We are proud of how you are balancing all of the many demands! The counselors have been especially pleased with how most of you have been well-prepared for your student-led college conferences; you've shown attention to research, a willingness to answer our questions regarding your choices, and a commitment to further research to ensure that your final college short list is well-informed, balanced in terms of reach, fit and star and most importantly shows BEST FIT. If you haven't already done so, you have until MAY 15TH TO COMPLETE YOUR JUNIOR SURVEY -LINK We use this information to write our counselor recommendation letters which we will begin in the summer. The more specific detail you use in answering the questions, the better our chance of writing you the best recommendation possible. Also, please remind your parents to fill out the PARENT BRAG SHEET BY MAY 15TH - LINK. Our focus in our last few seminars is writing the Common App. Essay or Personal Statement, or any other essays you may need for college.
ABC News reported on April 17th the following about standardized testing:
Coronavirus Upends Standardized TestingABC News (4/17, McCarthy) reported the College Board has “recognized that students are anxious” about SAT testing and “how that will impact the college application process and offered a potential virtual solution for the future.” To keep students safe, the College Board said it “will not be able to administer the SAT or SAT Subject Tests on June 6, 2020,” and is considering at-home SAT testing “in the unlikely event schools do not reopen this fall.” Similarly, the ACT “rescheduled it’s test that was slated earlier this month and postponed the exam until June 13.” In the meantime, “both the ACT and SAT sites are offering online tools to help students prepare for the exams with virtual prep and coursework.” National Association for College Admission Counseling President Jayne Fonash told ABC News that “students and families need to have a plan A, B and C” when it comes to preparing for college during this unprecedented time. “You say you want a college experience, you have an expectation of what that’s going to be like,” she added, but “that may be forever changed.”
Applying to the US? Take a moment to read this open letter to all juniors from Andrew B. Palumbo, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Over the past several weeks, I have spent a great deal of time considering what you must be going through as covid-19 has spread across the globe. As if junior year isn’t already stressful enough, now you have to learn remotely, grapple with a pandemic and worry about your basic health and safety. Some of you may be dealing with food and housing insecurity, and mental health and wellness issues; others are impacted by the coronavirus directly as our country goes through a dangerous surge in cases. I hope you are managing and getting the support you need.
Meanwhile, your friends in the senior class are making difficult decisions as they finish their college searches. I’ve seen first-hand how difficult this is for them. But starting your college search in the midst of a global pandemic while you’re practicing isolation and social distancing with no clear end in sight? You’re facing a whole different set of challenges; I feel for you.
So many of you are calling and writing to me and my colleagues in admissions and financial aid offices across the country.
“How will pass/fail grades affect my application?”
“Will I be able to visit schools?”
“Will I get credit for my AP courses?”
“My SAT/ACT testing date was canceled. Now I might have to take these test in the Fall as I’m catching up on school work and applying to schools? And they might be online?”
“I don’t know where to start…”
I am writing to you not because I believe I have all of the answers, but because I know that you have these questions.
The college admissions process has always brought with it a high level of uncertainty and anxiety for most students. Often, applicants and their families are puzzled by admissions decisions. Every college has its own requirements, values, and decision-making process. The process lacks a feedback loop, often leaving students disappointed and wondering “why?”
The covid-19 pandemic has added a level of uncertainty never experienced by students wondering how to navigate the college admissions process; that’s potentially the hardest aspect for you to wrap your head around.
Uncertainty marks today, tomorrow, and the foreseeable future. But I encourage you to accept what you can’t change and try to focus on the things that you can.
Take care of yourself. Do everything in your power to eat well, exercise, get the rest that you need and, of course, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Keep up with the passions that make you who you are. While colleges need to see your transcript, your essay, and letters of recommendation, we’re not admitting a collection of credentials, we’re seeking out the people who we want to welcome into our community.
Look out for your friends and family. Nothing is more important than the people you care about. Support those who you are living with and be sure to reach out to friends and family who are remote. It’s easy to become isolated and focus on ourselves and our immediate surroundings. Don’t underestimate the positive impact that a phone call, a letter, or an email can have on the people you care most about.
Do your best to focus on your education. I mean what I say: do the best that you can given the circumstances. But don’t try to do more than that. Far too often, I speak with students in the midst of the college admissions process who are striving for perfection or who want to “please” me or my university. There is no “perfect;” your education should be driven by your passion and interests, not by what you think colleges want. It’s okay to struggle. This is especially true in a time where you are likely learning in a remote environment and may be lacking accommodations, services, and the individual face time with your teachers that you might normally have.
Finally, here are a few things you should not worry about:
Pass/Fail grades: There are countless ways that high schools assess students’ performance. Admissions professionals see a range of grading point scales (4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 12.0, 100, etc.), narrative transcripts and, yes, pass/fail. Our goal is not to set expectations for your school; instead, we’re responsible for understanding your school’s grading system.
SAT/ACT: They don’t matter as much as you probably think they do. High-stakes standardized test scores have always been a point of contention for many of us in admissions. These scores don’t provide as much value as your high school transcript, and they have a problematic correlation with family income, sex, and race and ethnicity. Admissions offices never “need” a test score to make a sound admission decision. Now more than ever, schools are stepping away from this antiquated metric. Well over 1,000 schools had test-optional admissions policies before the covid-19 pandemic. In the wake of canceled SAT and ACT test dates, dozens more are rapidly eliminating these test score requirements for you and your classmates. The College Board just announced a plan to squeeze in additional test dates during your senior year and possibly host an online SAT. ACT responded that it will be offering an online version of its test. But these plans ignore what’s most important to all of you. Save your energy and focus for more important pursuits.
The Admissions Committee: The faceless group that sits around a long table discussing your greatest achievements and tries to identify critical flaws in your character and academic record? That’s a caricature of the real process and the dedicated admissions professionals who are eagerly looking forward to supporting you through your college search process and advocating on your behalf. The past five weeks I have sat in daily on Zoom meetings with an incredible group of people who are spending their days thinking about how they can support you. They are dealing with remote working issues that include caring for children and families, sharing work spaces with partners and roommates, and dealing with annoying (but adorable) interruptions by pets and children. Their lives and work aren’t normal, and they know that yours aren’t either. As a result, our admissions team — and others as well — are coming up with innovative ways to connect with you and to provide you with the information that’s critical for your college search. This is playing out at universities across the country. We are here for you. Call, email, connect on social media. We are here.
The rest of it? We’ll figure it out together.
Be safe and be well.
Andrew B. Palumbo Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid Worcester Polytechnic Institute
AS YOU WORK ON YOUR COLLEGE LIST, PLEASE KEEP BEST FIT IN MIND!
UNIVERSITY SPOTLIGHT Each month a different university from around the world will be highlighted.
In a Few Words: Maastricht University is a young university (less than 50 years old) that offers tutorial style learning - similar to Oxford and Cambridge. Uniqueness: The multidisciplinary research, from growing human tissue to exploring sustainability issues, provides a fertile breeding ground that feeds into their education. Academics are heavily involved in teaching, and interested students have a range of options for getting involved in research themselves. Also, its location is in the heart of Europe - see map below. Size: 16,300 students, 4,300 staff Curriculum: Education and research at Maastricht University is organized into faculties and schools. In total there are six of these entities, which consist of a number of departments. The six entities are: Psychology and Neuroscience, Business and Economics, Arts and Social Science, Health Medicine and Life Sciences, Law, Humanities and Sciences Admission: Applying for a bachelor's programme. Register via Studielink.nl. Upload your documents in MyUM. UM assesses your admissibility. Follow the admissions procedure. Complete your registration and pay your tuition fee Admissions Expectations: UCM strives to attract highly motivated students with a genuine academic interest. Therefore, UCM has a selective admissions process that is designed to help the Board of Admissions assess whether there is a match between your academic interest and what UCM has to offer. There are 225 spots available for incoming students each year. All applicants must meet the following - LINK Cost: Use this LINK for international student fees and scholarships
Interesting articles this month
How top universities worldwide are considering applications for 2021 amid COVID - 19 concerns - article
For US applicants - use this tool to check schools answering questions about their response to COVID-19 - LINK
A Message to Juniors from Emory University Rep. - read here
A unique approach to COVID -19 from this Australian university - article