5 minute read
Our sense of time has been upended for the past two months. Going to school, sitting in a restaurant, and stopping by the library feel both like just yesterday and many years ago. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about when we will return to a version of our old normal, but we know that the return is coming. The SAT and ACT will be held, the resulting scores will be considered by colleges, and a few months later, seniors will anxiously and excitedly await acceptance letters. Students can use this time of fewer commitments and clearer schedules to prepare for standardized tests in the next few months and the college decisions that follow.
Build Resilience, Start Something New, and Fill in Your Knowledge Gaps
Colleges are made up of people, just like us, who are also abiding by stay-at-home orders. Since we are all limited by what we can do outside of the home, we encourage students to consider how they might focus on growing their grit and resilience.
- The United Way of Central Maryland offers many virtual ways that students and families can do good, such as volunteering with Be My Eyes, an organization that helps blind and vision-impaired people by providing visual assistance through a live video chat.
- Students may already be contributing by watching younger siblings, so that their parents on the front lines can go to work. Or students can use this time to pick up or improve on a new skill or take a deeper dive into a long-term or budding interest.
- Students can also use this downtime to pinpoint any academic areas that could use polishing up. That can take many forms, including working on a personal project that will be attached to an application, like a writing piece or a program that displays their coding skills.
Prepare for Standardized Tests in the Coming Months
Standardized tests were delayed for the last few months, but they’re ready to make a comeback. The SAT will be offered either in-person or online in August, September, October, November, and December, and the ACT will be held in June and July. Although some colleges have become test-optional for the coming application period, strong standardized test scores still bolster any application. Plus, test scores are still used to determine many scholarship awards. Students may want to consider taking an online prep class and then using Khan Academy for additional practice.
Check Out Some Colleges
Although on-campus college visits and tours aren’t available right now, there are lots of other ways to learn about colleges and universities. Many colleges are offering virtual tours and information sessions on their websites. Juniors can visit StriveScan to virtually learn about 450 college opportunities in one place. Google News is useful to see a college’s recent events and what issues are important to its student body. To get a quick overview of many colleges, websites like College Board and Unigo are great resources.
Make Self-Care a Habit
Self-care is NOT selfishness. Rather, self-care is engaging in small activities and actions that fill our cup, so that when it’s time to give and share with others, we can do so mindfully and with a full heart. Engaging in self-care practices while life isn’t as hectic (but still anxiety-provoking) will make it more likely that students will incorporate these healthful activities into their post-COVID routines.
We invite students to explore ways to relax, like through meditative breathing, taking a walk outside, or exercising. They can challenge their cooking skills by experimenting with new and delicious nourishing foods. And they can identify how they like to connect with friends and family by video calling or even writing letters.
Our hope for us all during this time (and always) is to strive for balance. As professionals advise, students and parents will fare best by being patient with themselves and each other. We can’t predict when “normal” life will begin again, but we can enjoy the moments of joy, humor, and grace in the here and now, which builds our ability to not just survive but thrive in times of adversity.