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Tips for Applying for College during the Pandemic

Forbes Magazine just put out a great set of tips for getting into college, even when you can’t visit campus and show the admission officer what a great person you are. Face it! Things are different when you can’t see faces, even if you are together. Remember that 60 to 70 percent of our communication is non-verbal. Wearing a mask definitely interferes with your communication.

I’m not telling you to not wear a mask. In fact, an admission office may not take it kindly if you refuse to mask up. Who knows, they may be like me, a caretaker of a cancer survivor who is taking chemotherapy treatments. And you don’t want to get on the bad side of a college admission officer. They have a lot of leeway in their decision-making.

The Forbes article starts by advising you not to take an admission test. Being willing to risk being at a testing site may not be a good recommendation for a school struggling to avoid outbreaks on their campus. Taking the test could show that you don’t take masking guidelines seriously. The schools for which I teach take those guidelines very seriously, but that’s a topic for another post.

Second, do a virtual tour. Some schools offer campus visits, but others are switching to online visits, online interviews, and other online interactions. Don’t assume, but aim for not visiting the campus.

If you have something of great import about how the COVID virus affected you, put it in your admissions essay. Otherwise, talk about other things. Be sure you do a good job of telling your story. For most, it’s much more than COVID. COVID just is the most recent crisis in most people’s lives. On the other hand, if you used the lockdown time to do special service to those who needed help or volunteered in some significant activity, write about that. If you haven’t done anything special, do it now and write about that.

If your grades dipped, don’t get concerned. Colleges know that things were difficult during the first lockdown. They also know that many schools struggled just to keep going, never mind doing excellent teaching. Even if you had to switch to pass/fail, don’t be concerned.

Finally, apply early to the schools in which you are most interested. As usual, watch the deadlines. Some of them may change as colleges want to be sure to have students as the new year rolls around. A full roster of students is no longer a slam-dunk for even the best schools. One recommendation from my book, “Say No! To College Debt”, is to wait until the last minute to accept an offer. There are good reasons to wait. I listed them in the book. Keep an eye on my blog. When I see deals or programs that will help you with college, I share them.

Thanks for reading.

Source: Forbes Magazine November 202, page 143

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