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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Opportunities during the Pandemic Shutdown

Life has certainly changed. The way forward is unclear in many ways. At the same time, there are incredible opportunities that have opened up during this time.


March & April are busy times of receiving acceptances, scholarships, aid packages, and invitations to apply for additional awards. Many colleges have accepted student events and gatherings. With the campus closures, most, if not all, of these events are or will be modified in some way. Some schools have already announced that they will not hold students to the May 1 commitment deadline. Click the button below to get updated information on your colleges AND monitor your accounts, social media, and visit their websites for additional updates. Ask the admissions office to connect you with students who live in your area, then reach out to them in order to gather more information about campus life, both academic and social. Facebook groups and other social media is great but there's nothing like a one on one conversation to make connections and learn more about your prospective colleges. Reach out to professors in a limited way; most are overwhelmed with shifting their teaching to online modalities.
For the graduating Class of 2020 , this is a very unique spring. Not only are on-campus graduation ceremonies in question, but access to staff, faculty and on-campus academic and extracurricular resources have gone out the window for thousands of students. High school graduates need to plan to hit the ground running this August and need to maintain their strides, but now on a virtual setup. Help your senior stay on track this spring and summer in terms of academic advising, campus readiness, and post-degree planning, including grad school. A Personalized Action Plan plus one on one video consulting will propel your spring and summer 2020 forward.


The April 4 ACT has been rescheduled for June 13th and the rescheduled March SAT and May 2 SAT have been cancelled. Registered students will receive refunds. Follow the College Board's updates here. Updates about the AP exams can be found here. The next update is expected on Friday, March 20. Use this extra time to prepare for these exams. I encourage you to use ePrep's Premium courses so you have 6 full practice tests as well as 6 months to prepare. Use the scheduler to double up now, while you have extra time, then adjust it as needed. To register with my 20% off discount, click here.


A global health crisis is also an incredible learning opportunity. We’re watching public health emergency and global responses unfold right before our eyes. In mid-February, the Imperial College London launched a free class on the Coursera platform: Science Matters: Let’s Talk About COVID-19. Are you fascinated by the mathematical modeling that predicts the progression of the virus and how social distancing and other efforts “flatten the curve”? If so, you might like UNC’s online course, Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health, or Johns Hopkin’s online course, Data and Health Indicators in Public Health Practice. All three are available free of charge.
With schools across the country closing for a period of weeks, high schools are moving to virtual or remote learning. Since the traditional school day has been disrupted, I encourage students to take advantage of the time to deepen your learning and find ways to help those in your community who may be struggling. I also encourage you to take a little time to journal, pray, and ground yourself. We've all been through enormous upheaval during the past week.
Some ways to leverage your time:
  • Take advantage of online courses on platforms like Coursera, EdX, MIT’s Opencourseware, Yale’s Open Courses and more. Check out this link to 450 online courses you can take at Ivy League schools for no cost. These free online courses are great opportunities to deepen your interests and keep your mind sharp.
  • Use this free time to boost your writing abilities so that you can return to school on a stronger footing!
  • Have you considered entering your work in writing, history, computer science, math modeling, and art contests? Since these can all be done remotely, this would be a great time to stretch yourself and submit your work. Do a little research and you'll find many contests you can enter.
  • Start a virtual art and literary “magazine” for your classmates, homeschool community, or the senior citizens in your community. Encourage people to post stories, poems, artwork, and music all composed in this time of social distancing. Give a theme and help people get their creative juices flowing.
  • Can you create and post instructional or “how to” videos on YouTube? Create a virtual homework club and offer it to a local library. Offer to help homebound younger students with their lessons. If you're homeschooled, help others in your area sort out how to organize their day and stay sane as they guide their children's learning for the first time, often while balancing their own work tasks.
  • Launch a virtual PE class with your friends. Challenge yourselves with competitions you can do at home – pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks, etc. Organize a virtual dance party. Get creative!
  • Explore prospective careers, colleges, majors, and more. Let's get you started! We'll have a consultation then go from there. Consultation fees will be applied to your prep program. Click below to schedule your first meeting at a time when both parents and the student are available.


Most importantly, look for ways to help those in need in your community. Check in regularly with your grandparents and older relatives, as well as older neighbors and others in your community. Write letters, make crafts to gift, lead an online class to teach younger kids to draw pictures for the older people in their lives. Is your community seeking volunteers to help keep food banks stocked? Can you volunteer to pack meal kits? If your older college-aged siblings are home, can you work together to deliver meals and supplies to those who are homebound? Can you work together to take care of the meals and other chores in your home so your parents can teach the younger kids?
This is not the first pandemic. Great things can happen, even under these unusual circumstances. During a pandemic in 1665, Isaac Newton found himself with down time when the University of Cambridge sent students home (sound familiar?). Later, he called the year he spent away from school his “year of wonder.” It was then that he famously noticed an apple fall from a tree and came up with the ideas around gravity.
So, even as you practice social distancing and good hygiene, you can continue to stretch yourself academically and make a positive impact in your community. Who knows? You might discover some new passions and hidden talents!
Let's move your college preparations forward. Let's meet! Just click on my name, Katherine O'Brien, and select a good time for the parents and college bound student(s). Once you have scheduled your hour long personal meeting, I'll send you further information.