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College Admissions in a Time of Uncertainty

College fairs, recruiting events, campus visits and in-person interviews with college admissions staff are all part of the college application process. Typically, high school students are able to explore college campuses, have the opportunity to meet with professors in their areas of interest, have a taste of student experience through attending a session or two of classes that interest them and even over-night stays in dorms. However, things have changed dramatically over the last year due to COVID-19 and the restrictions in place that serve to keep campuses, college students and potential future students healthy and safe. As a result, high school students are facing new challenges in finding the best college for them, including new protocols for exploring campuses, the navigation of virtual interviews and changing admissions expectations and requirements.

In addition to the struggles mentioned above, high school students also have to contend with the effects of COVID-19 on their current educational experiences and extra-curricular and sports activities as well as their own social-emotional development. For example, many students are worried about their own health as well as the health of their family and friends which intensifies the levels of stress that many college applicants face without the effects of a global pandemic. The lack of interpersonal interactions high school students have due to COVID-19 policies in schools limit the benefits students gain from casual conversations in the hallways with peers, teachers and counselors. Today’s high school students are faced with significantly more anxiety over how to choose a college, much less a career, amid such uncertainty in the world.

What can you do to help your college-bound teen (and you!) manage heavy levels of stress during a pandemic? Let your teen know that they are not alone. There are many other students who are feeling the same way as your teen; and colleges are feeling the effects of COVID-19, too. This is a new experience for students and colleges, and everyone is finding their way. Secondly, take advantage of the flexible virtual opportunities available to explore colleges. Many admissions departments have created amazing 360° virtual tours that students can complete in less time than an actual visit to campus. Why is this a positive? Because it leaves more time for your teen to explore more colleges than ever before! Sign up for virtual Q & A sessions, interviews with professors and staff and encourage your teen to prepare well in advance. Thirdly, help your teen build resilience through conversations that focus on viewing these changes as a means for creating solutions and successes. For example, many colleges are no longer requiring the SAT or other standardized tests for acceptance. Your teen can use the extra time to focus on their application essays, find ways to engage in virtual extra-curricular activities or work on a passion project. Colleges are looking more closely at the merits and achievements of applicants in lieu of test scores and it's important for high school students to strengthen their academic resumés. Finally, make a plan. Create a visual pathway that outlines the steps your teen needs to take in the admission process; a steady, reliable schedule will create certainty and regularity when surrounded by so many unpredictable circumstances. 

Do you have a high school student who is headed to college in the next two years? Trifecta Education has a complete college and career readiness program, Quest for Success, that brings high school students of all ages on a journey of self-discovery; fosters the growth of resilience; enables them to build skills in communication, teamwork, critical thinking, technology and content knowledge; and helps them map out plans and processes to achieve their identified goals. This program is available online with a live college admissions professional who holds a doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration. Private in-home sessions are available, as well. For more information visit

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