High school juniors should make the best of their time during the pandemic restrictions

By Kathy Laberge, College Admission Coach 

May of your junior year is traditionally a hectic and rewarding time. Student calendars revolve around exams and proms. This year, of course, is completely different; juniors are conducting their coursework virtually and doing their best to socialize that way as well. We have had our movements restricted for more than six weeks and it’s simply human nature to feel a decline in motivation. At The College Advisor of New York, we say fight that urge! There are a variety of ways to make the best of this situation. It’s easy to think we are in an indefinite holding pattern, but, someday the world will reopen and when it does we want you to be poised to hit the ground running.

You know high school isn’t cancelled. You know how closely the junior year is examined by college and university admission offices. Yes, there are still papers to write and exams to take. Yes, you may be worried about how cancelled standardized tests, reduced class requirements, or pass-fail grading will affect college admission assessments. Maybe your activities have been halted by social distancing requirements. Perhaps you are comforted by hearing “You are all in the same boat.”  But is that actually true? Can’t you pilot your personal boat to a well-prepared success instead of trusting the currents to keep you afloat?

We think the creative students who display their ingenuity will be rewarded when their college applications are reviewed next fall. And we believe you should make the best of your summer as well. Jobs and internships are uncertain so now is the time to plan how you will make the most of the summer.

Our advice on this topic mirrors the advice we give our students in all areas. Be yourself!  So, if you are a musician then you can spend your extra hours perfecting a challenging piece or picking up another instrument. Researchers can deep dive into the intricacies of their inquisitiveness. Artists now have the large blocks of time needed to create fully realized works. Writers can write and rewrite to their heart’s content. Programmers can develop an app from nothing, and inventors can produce the objects of their wildest dreams. Athletes can work hard on developing their strength, speed and skills…What do you do? What is your passion? This is your chance to indulge it!

This summer you can take a college level class online. Universities and colleges have made tremendous strides in their virtual presentation over the last eight weeks. You may already be aware of virtual tours and admission zoom chats geared toward potential students. But campuses need to accommodate their existing students as well. More courses than ever before are available online and more faculty are prepared to conduct them. This is your opportunity to explore an academic interest and experience how college instruction takes place. 

Last, but by no means least, time can be spent on your college search. Perhaps you cannot get on campus, but you are able to research college websites. Remember that we are offering a, “bring the college visits to you” series.  Check out our Facebook Page for details of upcoming events.  Many college websites are boundless. You can move beyond the admission overview and analyze the school’s approach to your anticipated major, Read course descriptions and faculty biographies. Read student blogs and take advantage of the offers to chat with someone who shares your interests. Remember that we have students at most if not all of the colleges on your list, so just ask, and we will connect you with current students or alumni at the schools you’re considering. Look at the career counseling department and see if it equipped to assist you in your next step. Ask questions. Although campuses are physically closed, a great deal of business is still taking place via email. And remember to take notes. You will need them to write your application essays.

We know colleges value students who challenge themselves, those who are creative, and who demonstrate determination to learn despite restrictions. Remember, not all learning is conducted in a classroom. You can be your own best teacher by asserting your curiosity.  

Keep up your momentum. Stay engaged. Be ready for a post pandemic world.