A new survey detailing what rising high school seniors think about college amid the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that despite being unable to visit colleges for much of the year, "rising high school seniors are already looking toward fall 2021 and are optimistic that higher education will be back to normal by that time." As a general whole, the survey findings show that "the COVID-19 pandemic has not dampened prospective students' interest in attending college in fall 2021."
With the uncertainties surrounding college, rising high school seniors are navigating the challenges and adapting to a new educational environment by relying on alternate forms of communication and information.
If you are a rising high school senior, here are ways to remain informed, engaged and prepared for college:
- Research your desired schools' fall reopening plans. Find out if they intend to completely reopen, remain virtual, or use a hybrid option. Determine your comfort level with their new COVID-19 protocols when deciding to which school(s) you will apply. For this, you'll want to rely on the college website, as well as directly contact administrators with any further questions or concerns you may have.
- Identify key deadlines, especially since many schools have modified and/or extended their college application deadlines. Determine if your school(s) of choice have reduced their application fee or have completely eliminated it. According to the survey, 81% of students would be more likely to apply to a college/university if it reduced the application fee; 66% of students would be more likely to apply to a college/university if it extended the application deadline.
- Determine whether or not your desired school(s) have gone test-optional over COVID-19's impact on standardized exam schedules, or if they have completely removed test score requirements as part of the college admissions process.
- Find out if your ideal school(s) intend on hosting on-campus visits this upcoming academic year and devise a game plan/itinerary for if and when you'd be able to tour the campus. 90% of surveyed students said that they would still apply to a specific school they were considering, even if they couldn't make an on-campus visit.
- Follow your desired school(s)' social media accounts to keep up-to-date on developing college news and plans regarding the coronavirus - including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more!
- Attend any virtual college fairs and Q&A sessions offered to learn more about the school(s) in which you are interested. These opportunities may be one of the few or only times in which you can ask pressing questions or acquire crucial school information before you commit to a college.
- Sign up to receive both digital and print material from the schools that appeal to you most. These newsletters, pamphlets, and brochures will provide an in-depth and timely snapshot of what your college/university has to offer, especially during this unprecedented time. Most schools will have a designated place at their website where you can request more information and opt-in to receive these materials.
- Inquire if the school(s) in which you are interested are offering college tuition discounts and/or college tuition freezes due to COVID-19's impact on students' unmet college financial need. Contact the school directly or visit their website to learn about these potential changes.
- Talk to the college financial aid office at your desired school(s) regarding all college funding options, especially if you've endured financial hardship due to the coronavirus. You may be able to defer your commitment deposit or even appeal your financial aid package to get more financial aid.
- File Your FAFSA by the federal deadline of June 30, 2021 if you are a rising high school senior. For separate college and state FAFSA deadlines, click here. According to the survey, a whopping 92% of rising high school seniors had talked to their parents/guardians about applying to and paying for college. Now that's music to our ears!