Sourcing groceries in picked over metro Detroit has taken me back to my 313 childhood during the 1970s. Every Tuesday and Friday morning, a bright yellow truck emblazoned with “Worry Free-Home Delivery” appeared. Soon after, the reassuring clank of the metal milk chute door echoed as our Twin Pines delivery appeared, filled from my mom’s hand written list. Summer brought the smell of the vegetable man’s truck when my bare feet jumped up its steps as I shared our family’s order (and hoped he did NOT have broccoli!) Mr. Gianini would write our receipt with a tongue moistened pencil on a brown bag. I would run back into the house to count out the exact amount owed as I anticipated the satisfaction of returning to the kitchen with a box of fresh goodies.
How simple. How dependable. How fulfilling. How comforting.
The feeling of knowing that needs are being met allows the freedom to move forward and dream without anxiety. We need to provide this feeling via home delivery to high school students during this coronavirus tainted spring.
Stay off What If Island
Nothing seems reliable right now, but we must fight the urge to go to What If island and stay moored to what we know. Let’s crowd out the anxiety creeping into our teens’ space by refocusing them on what they can control.
High school students often equate their future with getting into college. They are not the same at all, of course, but it can feel like they are, in part, because our culture encourages such assumptions.
Now is the perfect time to do a family based reset. Consider doing a VIA Character Strengths Survey. There are adult and student versions. Compare results. Talk about how parent traits led to choosing career paths. Spend the most time on discussing, pondering, and giving value to the traits highlighted in student results. Ask questions. Listen to the concerns, hopes and dreams that come back to you. Brainstorm about how to move forward. Anchor our students by hearing and supporting them.
How will the coronavirus impact college admission goals?
It may delay, but will not take away.
Assure students that their state will make sure seniors graduate on time and that all students receive credit for work done while being physically absent from school. There has been some tone deaf communication about this which has created anxiety in various states. Perhaps it will be clarified in fifty unique ways, or maybe the federal level will mandate a policy.
Answers are coming
We do not understand the exact mechanics yet, but let us assure students that we eventually will. There is a call for a nationwide use of pass/fail grades in high schools this semester, which some colleges, including the University of Michigan, have already done. Listen as students ask about such rumors, and tell them that there will be answers. Perhaps follow up by talking about using online work and self-study to prepare for the next level of each subject. Could emphasize that the long game of gaining knowledge to stay on track vs the quick gratification of an earned grade plays to the favor of students gaining more control over how they move forward academically.
We do have information that will calm students and help them move forward this week:
*Some colleges are extending deposit deadlines and most offer online campus visits.
Check here to see what the colleges are doing, as well as following them on social media and stalking college websites.
*Colleges welcome communication to their admission and financial aid offices. Use it. You are their client and will have questions. Please ask them. The government has offered important financial aid information as well. Learn about new options and stay up to date with these links.
*There are plenty of colleges still accepting applications.
- State based testing (including the state given SAT or ACT) has been cancelled this year.
- IB testing has been cancelled for this year. More details to follow by March 27th.
Students can virtually visit using campus website links, YouTube (most colleges have their own channel), You Visit, Campus Reel and others. Seniors should be receiving information about virtual information sessions for admitted students as well. Access to campuses is just a screen away.
Create an ACT/SAT Plan
Look at the family schedule and anchor your student in future testing dates. Talk about logistics and the best approach for your student. Then consider if and when student will do some test prep. Many use Khan Academy for the SAT. There is an ACT Academy as well.
Start College Applications
What?!? Stay with me here. The Common Application is open and ready to go. It will roll over information into the next cycle. The exercise of entering colleges of interest will encourage juniors to explore options. Completing the personal sections will help applicants flesh out how they define themselves, and what a college considers about applicants. It can open up space for conversations about everything related to the process and most importantly, ground the future applicant in doing something to benefit their future. This guide we wrote may help with the little questions, but the goal right now is to spark general feelings of control in the student. Draft now, dream now and apply later.
Stay in the know. Listen to your child’s opinions and concerns. Help find answers to coronavirus created unknowns. Consider if the student should defer starting college for a year due to health or financial concerns. Most importantly, remain flexible and be an example of keeping the college admission process in perspective.
Are you on overload yet? I am. The short version is this: Our students will graduate. Our pathways to college will remain open. Answers will appear and provide pathways to access. The details will be worked out by the government, colleges, educators and each of us as we keep the focus on what is best for students.
It. Is. Still. Bright.
Our job is to make sure that those who are considering college, or are in college, remain grounded in the reality that their future is still bright.
Despite the void they feel: It. Is. Still. Bright.
Wearing our future on their shoulders
They may not get to wear the theater costume, team jersey, graduation gown or prom dress, but they each share the mantle of helping to improve our future. Many have questioned teen resilience over the past decade, yet our youth are sadly having the opportunity prove that they are of the strongest stock seen since the greatest generation.
Mind the Pathways
Let us each be mindful by listening, sharing truths, and highlighting ways our students can maintain ownership of their life paths.
We don’t need to fill their every moment with enrichment activities. We do need to use this “found time” to both listen to and reenforce all that we value in each high school and college aged soul. Let’s keep them facing towards their potential-filled future without worry. From within, may they find determination to actively proceed toward their goals and dreams.
PS: Here are some ideas to fill time. *Disclaimer: No college expects students to have a coronavirus activity on their application. Just provided so that when you hear the words “I’m bored” you have something “fresh off the truck” to deliver.
©Eva McGregor Dodds
Eva is an affiliate of Collegewise. Collegewise offers test prep & tutoring, college counseling, free resources & a webinar series kicking off a really cool opportunity to stay up to date this week. Check out Collegewise March Madness here.
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