Applying to College or Boarding School: What to do Now?

By Greenwich Education Group College and Boarding School Advisory Team

The calls and emails all contain the same questions – How do I choose between colleges I never had a chance to visit? Will boarding schools be open in the fall? How do I prepare for the abbreviated AP exams? And what is up with the SSAT, SAT, and ACT?

Nationwide stay-at-home orders appear to be effective in decreasing the numbers of COVID-19 infections, but they also prevent high school students and their families from engaging in the traditional due diligence when it comes to the college application process.

Students applying to independent day and boarding schools have been similarly affected. They have attended virtual revisit days for the first time rather than make a visit to each of their accepted schools and meet other current and prospective students, faculty, and administration. As educational consultants, we track the daily influx of information and encourage our students and their families to research their educational options in a thoughtful and organized manner, albeit with a new set of tools.

A wise person once said, “Crisis brings change.” The COVID-19 crisis has brought great change to the educational landscape and while it is understandable to grieve what has been lost, it is important to embrace the positive changes that may come out of the crisis.

For students trying to select which school to attend in the fall, they have had to forgo highly orchestrated admitted student days held on beautifully landscaped campuses during which they are treated to student-teacher panels, generous meals, and lots of swag.

This year students are digging into increasingly robust school websites, researching potential classes and professors, attending virtual panels hosted by academic departments, even attending Zoom classes, and reading online student newspapers to get a better sense of the campus culture. There is an argument to be made that as a result of this greater level of intentional research, students may, in fact, make better choices in selecting their school.

School administration officials have communicated that they are prepared to be flexible. They frequently mention that we are all in this together.  Many schools have delayed deposit due dates, gone test-optional, and extended their fall application due dates, all of which benefit students. Financial aid officers are doing their best to work with families who suddenly find themselves in very different economic circumstances.

It is important to remember, however, that just as schools are prepared to be flexible, so must students and their families. There is still so much uncertainty as to when/if students will return to campuses in the fall, but like everything we are witnessing, those answers are still being weighed with daily updated information.

Beyond the issue of determining where to go to school in the fall, we encourage our students to be grateful for their health and family during this time.

We also allow them to grieve what should have been; proms, athletics, performances, and so much more.

It is possible, we tell them, to have a lot of conflicting feelings all at the same time.  It is also possible to embrace the changes that come from the crisis.

While this is for now and not forever,  perhaps some of the positive student-focused changes we are witnessing in the educational landscape will be forever.

More information on Greenwich Education Group College Consulting is available online.

More information on Greenwich Education Group’s Day and Boarding School Advisory Services is available online.

More information on Greenwich Education Group is available online.