COVID-19 is changing the college prep experience for high school students

Many students take college admissions exams, and counselors at a Valley school help students navigate the changes in the preparation process.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Our ongoing series “Learning Curve”, focused on education. continues with a topic that is currently held in high esteem by many high school students and seniors – college preparation.

This is the time when many students take college admissions exams, and counselors at a Valley school are hard at work helping students navigate the changes in the college preparation process caused by the pandemic.

The senior sprint is in full swing.

“We have the graduate thesis, a 15-page essay that will be ready by the end of the year… we have colleges, of course, and then another regular school on top of that,” said Jeremy Holford, senior at Great Hearts Scottsdale Prep.

Students are hard at work preparing for the next step.

“I apply to a lot of universities… University of Michigan, Yale,” said Emma Pophal, who is also a senior.

“Hillsdale College at Michigan or Baylor,” said Holford.

Filling out job applications, preparing for entrance exams, and researching scholarships and grants have always been stressful.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Pophal said.

But students now have to navigate changes in the process due to the pandemic.

“Consider more zoom meetings, fewer face-to-face meetings…or school assessments,” Holford said. “It’s harder to get a SAT done.”

“Virtual tours they do… it’s very interactive and I love it,” Pophal said.

College counselor Laney Smith says the biggest impact she’s seen is limited access to testing.

“Certainly it increased equity for many students in their access to some of those resources, but it’s a minor drawback for students who would have tested well, if they didn’t have that opportunity,” she said.

Smith says the pandemic has also affected students’ mental health, and it’s critical to consider your emotional well-being during the college process to make it a positive experience.

“To recognize it as activation, right? It’s excitement for something we care about deeply,” Smith said.

Jeremy and Emma stay on track and optimistic.

“I’m thinking business, maybe psychology,” Holford said.

“I want to study medicine,” Pophal said.

But for now they are taking things step by step.

“We’ll see where I end up and then we’ll decide,” she said.

If you have a story or concern about education that you would like us to address or investigate, please email [email protected]

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