Road Map for August: Class of 2021

With the launch of the Common App this weekend, the new application cycle has officially begun.  If you haven’t started working on your profile, family info, educational history and activities, use these last few weeks of summer to get your application in good shape before school starts. It will feel great to have this off your plate, since most students will find managing the senior year workload to be a continuing challenge whether you have all-remote or hybrid learning this fall.  I also strongly recommend that students get started on essays now with the goal of having a personal statement and COVID essay ready or nearly final when school starts, and solid drafts of as many supplements as possible.  This is especially important for students who are considering applying Early Decision or Early Action to any schools, or who will need to meet early deadlines for scholarship consideration.

To support you as you get started, I’m offering a series of workshops in August and September to provide guidance on applications and essays. Details and dates are here and additional dates can be added for a group of three or more students; please contact me to discuss scheduling your event. As always, individual advising is available for applications, essays, college lists, gap year planning and other topics.

I’m also advising students to request teacher recommendations sooner rather than later if they have not already done so.  Schools will have different procedures depending on whether they use Naviance or not, but your first step should be to just contact your teacher and ask. Then follow the instructions your college counselor gives you for making the official request.  If you’re asking someone outside school for a recommendation, like a coach, employer, Girl Scout or Boy Scout leader or mentor, you can send the invitation to your “Other Recommender” directly through the Common Application, or whatever platform your colleges are using.

For those of you who have been trying to sit for the SAT or ACT—most of you, I suspect—it might seem like the ground is shifting under your feet. Both testing companies have had disastrous years plagued by continuing cancellations, technical issues with registration, and problems at test sites when exams have gone forward. As a result, more colleges continue to adopt test-optional policies every week, which I expect to continue, and a few schools have even gone test-blind. We are expecting scores to be lower this year overall since students are getting fewer bites at the apple, and many colleges will be putting less emphasis on testing. If you have scores, great—you’ll be able to apply to any college regardless of its policies while things continue to develop. If you don’t have scores but want to test, keep an eye out for updates from the exam providers but be prepared for the possibility that it simply may not happen.  If you aren’t comfortable that testing can be done safely, check to see whether the schools on your list are test-optional (including scholarship requirements if that’s a consideration.) If so, you may be able to apply successfully without sitting for a fall exam.

Finally, this is going to continue to be a tough year. Prepare yourself, take care of yourself, and ask for help when—not if—you need it.