For students in grade 11, the current situation can be very daunting. Standardised tests are being cancelled, nobody knows when schools will reopen and there are so many uncertainties regarding college admissions. This is certainly very stressful, but you can also use this time wisely and productively to get a head start and strategise your application.
Here are some suggestions that will hopefully ease your stress and help you stay occupied during COVID-19:
1) Continue to prepare for standardised tests:
Colleges will not penalise students for situations beyond their control. If you cannot take an SAT/ACT exam now or even later, colleges will be flexible and consider it. However, continue to prepare for these tests as an online version (where you can take the test at home) might be rolled out. It is also likely that a centre will open again at the end of the year when everything goes back to normal. While many colleges might move to a test-optional policy, the test isn’t going away. Therefore it’s worth preparing for and taking a standardised test when possible.
2) Research colleges thoroughly:
Researching colleges is inevitable, even without COVID-19. You might be sure that you want to attend a college in Boston, however, you still have many choices. So, use this time to take virtual tours, speak to alumni and connect with the admissions teams. Demonstrated interest is important for some colleges, especially smaller colleges, where they only want to admit students who genuinely want to attend their institution. Reaching out to professors or members of the admissions team is a great way to demonstrate your interest in a college, especially at a time like this. Please note many colleges do not take demonstration interest into account.
3) Cast a wider net:
Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, it is important to consider alternative options. Looking at options closer to home or even in India at this stage is not a bad idea.
4) Keep studying hard:
Your grades are still the most important component of the college application process. Colleges will only admit you if they think you can cope with the academic rigour at that institution. The best indication of this is your high school transcript. Remember that this lockdown is not an endless holiday and use this time wisely. Make sure to submit the work your teachers are asking you to do or use this time to read about the subjects you are interested in pursuing. Continue to build your intellectual curiosity.
5) Replan the summer:
You might have already applied to a summer programmme or planned to conduct a research project or thought about engaging in some social work at an NGO. However, COVID-19 must have derailed all your plans. Do not be disheartened and start to think of alternatives. Is the summer programme offering online classes? Can you work with that professor online? Can you contribute to the NGO digitally? Start exploring these options and be proactive. It would be great if you can think of a solution. This shows determination, flexibility, proactiveness and leadership, all qualities that top colleges are looking for in applicants.
6) Start early and do not procrastinate:
It is easy to put the college topic on the back burner at the moment, but this is the last thing you should do. The earlier you start planning, the better position you will be in. Here are steps that you can already take to start working on your US college application.
Remember that unless you apply Early Decision to a college in the US, there is absolutely no obligation that you must attend that institute. So, it is always better to have several options available to you than regret not having tried enough or feeling that you could have applied to more colleges. So, continue approaching the college admissions process as you would have if everything was normal and make the changes suggested above. You will still be a competitive applicant and learn much in the process. If you require further guidance, get in touch with us.