College advising adapts to conditions of state-wide quarantine

News

KO’s college advising office went online on Tuesday, March 24, as Connecticut legislation forced the KO community to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Despite this drastic change in lifestyle, KO’s college advisors have managed to maintain a close eye over students and their application processes.

Instead of holding biweekly college VQV classes, each student now schedules an hour-long Zoom call with their advisor every other week. This has provided for more conversation according to Director of College Advising Jami Silver. “I’ve really enjoyed the one-on-one experience,” she said. “I feel like I know the students more.”

These meetings are the main way college advisors communicate to their students, but whenever there is news, students receive an informational email from Ms. Silver or Associate Director of College Advising Peggy Clark.

KO now offers students weekly College Admissions Speakers Series led by Ms. Silver and administrators of different colleges. One of the largest concerns raised during quarantine is the change in the college application process. These informational sessions have given some peace of mind to many students so that they can more accurately gauge the new environment around applying for college.

However, some students such as junior Cami Forslund feel as though online communication causes interactions to be unfavorable. “Being online, it’s less interactive,” Cami said. “It’s more awkward.”

A major area of concern for families is standardized testing, which is often a critical component of applications. Mrs. Clark and others have frequently communicated with students whenever news of SAT and ACT’s plans appears. The ACT has yet to communicate about any future testing dates, while the SAT has canceled all dates until August 29. Many are currently unsure whether later testing dates will be canceled or not.

In an attempt to assuage students, many once test-required schools have decided to no longer require the SAT or ACT. Ms. Silver represents the hope of many, wishing that colleges will begin to consider the student behind the application more.

The spring is the most important time for juniors. “This would have been, kind of, the heart of VQV,” Ms. Silver said, referring to the final months of school.

Ms. Silver says that the conversation surrounding applications has shifted. College advisors encourage students to think about controllable aspects of their applications, such as the personal statement and other writing portions, instead of worrying about missed additions to their college resumes.

She also said that this new process has allowed students to differently frame their view on applying to college. “This has given an opportunity to kids and families to think about what they like to do most,” Ms. Silver said. “At the heart of it, that’s what colleges want kids to be thinking about.” She hopes that this change in mindset may last.

College advising has been greatly affected by the quarantine; their actions demonstrate that they have been working hard to help students in every way possible. “They’re doing everything they can, despite what’s happening and what they know, there’s just a lot of uncertainties,” Cami said.

To Ms. Silver, the main priority is being available to whomever, whenever. “We never say no to talking to a family,” Ms. Silver said. “If a family has a question…don’t hesitate to reach out to the college office.”