Summer vacation came in the spring this year, brought to us by the Coronavirus and its attendant bumper crop of lemons. And when you’re given lemons….
As we all adjust to the new realities of our daily lives and follow the guidance of public health officials regarding Coronavirus, we want to offer some information and thoughts to students in the time of COVID-19.
Whether you’re a high school senior waiting for admissions decisions, a junior whose SAT was just canceled, a college student back at home, or any student now home and starting virtual schooling, we think that you’ll find the information in this blog helpful, and we hope that you find our closing thoughts inspirational.
COVID-19 IMPACT ON COLLEGE PLANNING & ADMISSIONS
Even though you can’t visit colleges in person during your Spring Break, you can still connect with the colleges on your list — they’ll definitely want to connect with you. For all the colleges you’re considering, sign up on their websites to join their mailing lists. In addition to demonstrating your interest, you’ll have another resource from which to gather information about each college: updates on virtual admission information sessions, virtual campus tours, and other programs targeting juniors. Some colleges are even giving prospective applicants access to their online classes. That’s a terrific and convenient opportunity for you to see college education in action, so check with the schools on your list.
Harvard just announced revised expectations for applications amid the Coronavirus epidemic, indicating that applicants won’t be penalized if they can’t submit AP or SAT Subject Test scores. The announcement continues, “We will continue to look at the whole person as we consider applications next year – as always. Accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years - including community involvement, employment, and help given to your family – will all be considered… Students who find themselves limited in the activities they can pursue due to the current Coronavirus outbreak will not be disadvantaged as a result.” UVA sent an email saying “students will not be at a disadvantage in the admission process as a result of school closures and cancellations associated with standardized testing. Students are not responsible for things they cannot control.” I expect other colleges to follow suit.
We anticipate that colleges will release admissions decisions as planned. Most schools have converted previously scheduled programs for admitted students to virtual programs, using all the social media tools they have to connect with accepted students. So, check your email and other social media platforms regularly for updates from the schools on your list.
Some colleges have already announced that they will delay the May 1 deposit date until June 1 in order to give seniors more time to review their options and finalize their decision. Always check with each school to learn its current policy.
The attached spreadsheet contains specific updates from colleges about their virtual events and other admission changes.
SAT & ACT
The College Board cancelled the March and May SATs as well as the makeup exams for the March administration. The June 6 SAT hasn’t been cancelled, and we’ll continue to monitor and share College Board decisions. Because the March and May SATs were cancelled, juniors went from three possible end-of-year SAT dates to just the one test date in June. That June test is now three times as important if you’re aiming to reach your score goal by then and not prep over the whole summer for the August and October tests.
ACT has rescheduled the April test to June 13; if you’re registered for the April test, you’ll get an email from ACT about the postponement, with instructions for next steps. To access up-to-date information, additional national test dates options, and other frequently asked questions, you can visit here. Because the April ACT was canceled, the June ACT has become twice as important if you were hoping to finish with testing by the end of junior year and not have to prep over the summer for the September test.
So, juniors need to be extra prepared to do well in June, even if that test has a harsh scoring curve or unfamiliar content. That takes extra preparation, which you can start doing now. To help you with your preparation, I’ve attached a list of the best test-prep books available, all of which can be purchased from Amazon.
Some colleges have modified their testing requirements as a result of the pandemic, including Case Western and Boston University (both test optional next year), Tufts (test optional for the next three years), Scripps and University of Oregon (test optional). More colleges are likely to follow, but before you jump for joy, just remember that other factors will weigh more heavily when colleges evaluation your application for admission, such as grades, rigor of curriculum, extracurricular engagement, essays, and letters of recommendation. And note also that the University of Oregon added a kind of disclaimer, “While strong scores can still benefit applicants…” And BU elaborated on that theme a bit more: “Under the policy shift, it will be up to prospective students and applicants to decide for themselves whether to include standardized test scores with their applications for admission… This is a personal decision for each and every applicant… students should consider whether the breadth of their academic records, their contributions in the classroom and outside in their communities, and the range of their experiences reflect their full potential.”
The College Board will offer 45-minute online exams instead of the traditional paper-based two-to-three-hour tests. Two different dates will be offered for each test, so you can choose to take a test sooner or later. These dates will be announced by April 3. Content will be adjusted for the new format and will exclude topics unlikely to have been covered in school due to closures. The College Board will offer online resources for self-study and additional supports for teachers and schools, and it believes – but can’t guarantee – that all colleges will support this change, allowing AP students to earn credit for their work this year. For the actual announcement, click here: AP Updates for Schools Impacted by Coronavirus, and be certain to check with the colleges on your list to find out what their policies will be.
The IB exams, originally scheduled for April 30 through May 22, have been cancelled in all countries. Depending on what you’re registered for, you’ll be awarded a Diploma or a Course Certificate. This is based on your “submitted coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programme.”
Cambridge just made the difficult decision not to run their international examinations in the May/June 2020 series in any country. This includes Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level, Cambridge International AS & A Level, Cambridge AICE Diploma and Cambridge Pre-U. To ensure that students don’t face disadvantage as a result of these extraordinary circumstances, they will receive a grade and a certificate from Cambridge International, given the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their programmes of study.
TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT
Students will be able to take these tests remotely. More information is available here for the TOEFL, GRE, and other tests given by ETS. The interim GMAT will provide a comparable structure, number of questions (Quant, Verbal, and IR only), and scoring as delivered in test centers. The check-in and security protocols will be modified to accommodate online delivery and remote proctors will be used to manage test integrity. More details are available here. All March registrants for the LSAT in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands were transferred to the April 25 test in the community where they were registered. The Law School Admission Council is hopeful that the April and June tests will be able to go forward as planned. More information is available here. The March 27 and April 4 MCAT exam administrations have been canceled globally. Flexible rescheduling has been extended for exams taking place through the end of May. Find out more here.
CORONAVIRUS & COLLEGE STUDENTS
For current college students, there’s never been a spring like this one. Although most faculty are available virtually, on-campus academic resources are unavailable. Score At the Top can help you because we’re been doing virtual tutoring and teaching for many years. Our academic support can bridge the period during which you lack direct academic and grad school advising.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR EVERYONE
In 1665, London was in utter panic because Bubonic Plague ravaged the city, killing almost 25% of its population. When Trinity College in Cambridge closed for two years, Isaac Newton, who had just graduated, returned home instead of beginning a tenure as a teacher. During his quarantine, which is now referred to as his “Year of Wonders,” he developed the laws of motion and gravity, invented calculus − and changed the course of human history.
What are the take-aways? Take advantage of the time to make the most of the situation. Continue to improve, deepen your learning, and stimulate your curiosity. Look beyond the current tragedy, and prepare for the rest of your life. This is a remarkable opportunity to help those in your community who may be struggling, so consider calling your local Red Cross or county health department to see if there’s a role you can play.
Here are a few things you can do to better prepare yourself for when school restarts – and, for that matter, for the rest of your life:
- Take online courses on platforms such as Coursera, EdX, MIT’s Opencourseware, Yale’s Open Courses, and check out this link for 450 free online courses from the Ivies.
- Visit ASU for You, a terrific online Arizona State University platform for “every learner at any age.”
- Take advantage of Hillsdale College’s 3-week study session of its newest online course, “The Great American Story: A Land of Hope.” Based on Dr. Wilfred McClay’s US history textbook, the online course examines the people, events, and ideas that have made America a land of hope. You can register for this 25-lecture course – which my children and grandchildren are doing! – here: The Great American Story: A Land of Hope
- Visit this link to find and join one or more of “50 Excellent Online Communities for Lifelong Learners”
- Google “online communities for ____,” with the blank being whatever interests you and/or is a target for your learning
- Use “Smithsonian Open Access.” The Smithsonian—with its 19 museums, 9 research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo—has lifted copyright restrictions on about 2.8 million of its digital collection images and data. That means anyone can use it, for free, for any purpose.
- The Crown Education Challenge encourages elementary, middle school, and high school students to take a stake in a global challenging by responding to the theme of “hope during a pandemic.” Complete an art project, STEM research report, or essay. Prizes include published pieces in the Harvard Technology Review and mentorship opportunities. Students Taking Stake in Global Challenges
- Tune in to hear Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare on Facebook: Reading Shakespeare
There has never been a better time for learning. Boost your academic skills so you can return to school on a stronger footing. Our teachers and tutors have years of experience working virtually with students, so contact us for safe, effective help to improve your academic and test-taking skills. Use this time to expand your curiosity. Perhaps you’ll discover new passions and hidden talents!
Let’s make some tasty lemonade!