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College Admissions Cracked - Buy the Book

Reassurance Included

Hello Dear Parent!

Before I get started reassuring you about all the things that you don’t need to worry about (but might’ve thought you did), an update that I’m signing up students for college essay and application coaching right now. Contact me here for help with essays before I hit max capacity (or at any time for general college consulting). When you do, please identify yourself as a CPR member for VIP treatment!

And now for those reassurances…

…because we have enough to worry about today, amiright? If you are anything like me, there’s always something you think you should be doing but you’re not: working harder, focusing better, cooking gourmet dinners for your family because everybody’s home all the time, and doing those family game nights or 2000-piece puzzles or marathon hikes that everyone else is posting about on Facebook. I need to constantly remind myself that I’m doing the best I can, and my best is plenty. Be gentle with yourself, my friend, as you stay safe and cope with the ramifications of global pandemic in your own way. No shame spiraling among our tribe!

So, what will happen to students in the fall?

The hardest part of this uncertainty we are living with is a second layer of uncertainty: we don’t know when we’ll know more. Colleges don’t know either. They are troubleshooting as frantically as we are about how to handle a litany of different potential September scenarios. A few schools have announced their plans. Northeastern University says fall classes will be held live with social distancing protocol in place. California State, the biggest public university network in the country, with a large percentage of commuter students, says fall classes will take place online. A bunch of colleges have said they’ll make a decision at the end of June, so stay tuned. Join our CPR Facebook Group where I’m posting updates as they come in.

Proceeding with the college admissions process through all of this not knowing…

Do not let fear and doubt lead you off course! The timeline laid out in College Admissions Cracked is just as relevant now as it was in January. Even if specific dates change during this exceptional year, the order of things won’t. Right now, the big change for high school sophomores and juniors is that campus tours are online instead of live. I know this is not optimum, but the silver lining of virtual college tourism is that you can visit an infinite number of colleges, far more than you could’ve seen over spring break. Your child may find a wonderful surprise school to add to the list while web surfing!

Do not let all the latest standardized testing issues get you down…

Standardized testing is really and truly something you do not need to worry about this year. Let the College Board and ACT do all the sweating. About 1230 colleges have joined the test-optional bandwagon at this point. If your child is applying to college in 2020 and never wants to take a college entrance exam, they don’t have to! If they still want or need to take the tests, take comfort that colleges will have no choice but to be more flexible about test scores this year with all the cancellations, ever-changing promises for future testing in an unknown format and other headaches the testing companies (and, to be fair, the coronavirus) have wrought.

All those seniors taking gap years does not mean less space for students applying in 2020…

It’s the latest myth around town, but colleges are far more worried about under-enrollment (and bankruptcy) now than over-enrollment in two years. This reality makes 2020 applicants a hot commodity and more likely to get into colleges, not less!

Believe it or not, students have more control over their own destiny this year than ever before…

Students have always had 100% control over the way they present themselves in essays and other parts of their application, and this year—without test scores or spring semester letter grades in many cases—your child’s written application will hold extra weight. Plus, the Common Application has added a 250-word opportunity for your kid to explain how COVID-19 impacted her personally. I hope your child feels the power of the pen when she sits down to convey her message to colleges. If she feels freaked out instead (or you do), you’re not alone, and you know where to find me for help.

Sanity Saver…

Have you noticed that despite the world turning topsy-turvy, your child is getting more sleep? I’ve been thinking a lot about how this shake-up of the way things have always been done in high school and in college admissions could end up net positive.

Anxiety and depression among high school students has doubled over the past decade, making it clear something was broken. It’s possible that this reprieve from the building pressure—for A+s in an overloaded academic program, for 1600 SAT scores, to maintain a hectic schedule of activities to look good for college admission, and more—will point our students in a healthier, more personally fulfilling direction as their world re-opens. It’s possible that this cohort of teenagers, who have been forced to become more resilient, resourceful, and sensitive to how their actions could make a life or death impact on others, will recalibrate their inner compass away from artificial external markers toward becoming more compelling and humane future leaders. It’s also possible that letting go of some of the toxic traditions on the road to college admission will make our children less anxious and happier in the long run, and isn’t that what we all want for our kids?

My belief in these possibilities for our children’s future is keeping me sane these days. Also cooking, so please send me your best recipes (along with flour and yeast if you can find any!) to support my habit before I resort to a worse one. As we all wait for more concrete news from colleges, please stay safe, and reach out if I can help with college applications or otherwise.

Warmly,

Jill

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