Parkway North Seniors Navigate College Admissions During COVID-19

Southeast+Missouri+University+%28SEMO%29+junior+Drew+Lynch+leads+a+tour+for+Parkway+North+seniors+through+the+campus+on+Sept.+16.+While+many+colleges+choose+to+conduct+fully+virtual+tours%2C+there+are+many+colleges+like+SEMO+that+offer+both+virtual+tours+as+well+as+social+distanced+in-person+tours+led+by+student+tour+guides.

Southeast Missouri University (SEMO) junior Drew Lynch leads a tour for Parkway North seniors through the campus on Sept. 16. While many colleges choose to conduct fully virtual tours, there are many colleges like SEMO that offer both virtual tours as well as social distanced in-person tours led by student tour guides.

Sara Hong, Editor-in-Chief

As if the college application process was not already difficult and intricate enough, with the pandemic, new or revised resources and information are further complicating the matter.

While Parkway North administrators are working hard to gain awareness of the active resources available for students regarding applying to college, students are bombarded with a vast amount of old and new information.

“I’m aware of how to access most of the resources for college; however, I’m not really sure which ones are important or needed and which ones are just tedious reminders or work,” said senior Michael D’Alfonso.

The most popular way of getting information to students during the virtual learning quarter is through email, but as there is always a chance of information overload, just using email to spread information is not effective. Therefore, the counseling department at North has created a webpage with all of the information.

“There are so many great resources available to students to assist with the college admissions process. I have been compiling all of them in one location on the PNH Counseling webpage, under College & Career,” said College and Career Counselor Katie Meyer, who is new to North this year. 

Working through college applications while being online comes with various difficulties regarding not only information overload but also time management and prioritization.

“Being online and having to apply to college is difficult because it just means more computer work. If school was in-person, the two might feel different, but right now it just feels like extra homework,” said D’Alfonso. 

Even though choosing and applying to colleges takes time, it is a vital step to consider as soon as possible. What a student does all four years of high school will impact their likelihood of admission.

“Colleges, more than ever, are looking at students holistically due to the pandemic. It’s important for students to take their time on their college applications and essays to really show colleges who they are if they decide to apply [for a] test-optional [school]. This means instead of simply listing activities and accomplishments, a student needs to ‘show’ the admissions officer who they are not only as a student, academically speaking, but as a person in their community,” said Meyer.

One of the biggest challenges that sometimes goes overlooked are college visits as people may perceive it to be unnecessary; however, building relationships with college admissioners and getting a feel for the campus actually plays a large role in the success of getting in and staying in college. 

“While the pandemic is hindering students from physically visiting campuses, some are allowing social distancing visits or have virtual visits that can be done at home. It’s important that a student not only gets accepted to the institution, but also feels at home. Students that are comfortable at their campuses typically feel more connected and do better academically,” said Meyer.

With these new changes come new reasons for anxiety due to differing procedures and wondering how admissions will be conducted this year as some colleges may do different steps or have different policies than others. 

“Colleges, more than ever, are looking at students holistically due to the pandemic. It’s important for students to take their time on their college applications and essays to really show colleges who they are if they decide to apply [for a] test-optional [school]. This means instead of simply listing activities and accomplishments, a student needs to ‘show’ the admissions officer who they are not only as a student, academically speaking, but as a person in their community. Test-optional schools have been asking for additional essays, resumes, and sometimes even an interview,” said Meyer.

While managing school work and the college application process may be hard to balance, there are resources like Meyer, other counselors and websites to utilize to help guide students through the process.

“[My advice is to] take advantage of all of the virtual resources that are available. Even underclassmen because it’s never too early to get started on the college process. Ask questions because you never know what vital information you are missing out on because you simply just didn’t ask,” said Meyer. 

 

-Compilation of resources. PNH Counseling webpage, under College & Career: https://sites.google.com/parkwayschools.net/parkwaynorthccr

-Advice on creating a college list, what to put in a personal statement and how to write supplemental essays: 

https://www.collegeessayguy.com/college-application-hub

-Virtual campus tours: https://sites.google.com/parkwayschools.net/parkwaynorthccr/rep-visits-tours-fairs?authuser=0

-Naviance: 

https://student.naviance.com/pkwynrth

-List of test-optional schools:

http://fairtest.org/university/optional

-Mentors4College:

https://sites.google.com/view/mentors-4-college/home