High school seniors are facing tough challenges in the pandemic world of college admissions and applications.
Cookeville High School Counselor Stephanie Hardin said a lot of work has gone into trying to get information about applications and deadlines out to parents, when parent and senior meetings are cancelled. Hardin said the counseling team put together videos and packets, for families taking on more responsibility in the college process.
“Within that packet we put a timeline within that packet for parents to follow,” Hardin said. “We broke it down monthly, so that they could look at for October, ‘these are the things that my student and myself should be doing.”
White County High School Counselor Jennifer Murphy said one of the biggest challenges is preparing parents and students to fill out complicated financial aid and scholarship forms on their own. Although, Murphy said one of her concerns is the communication loss between students and colleges that used to visit the high school.
She said these interactions show students that college can be a reality.
“The connection to what’s coming next is just so severed,” Murphy said. “The kids are leaping from 12th to 13th grade on blind faith and without really having a connection to it. That is so hard coming from a low socioeconomic background.”
Murphy said throughout college preparation, the pandemic has forced parents to take on a role as part of their child’s counseling team. Hardin said that at Cookeville High School, this year has been about finding a balance between communication with in-person students, and ones in remote.
“The challenge of getting the information out to the ones that are here face to face and the ones that are at home doing the remote,” Hardin said. “We’re still kind of working through that. That’s been a challenge in itself, scheduling has been a challenge in itself. Just to make sure everybody has what they need, when they need it.”
Hardin said this point in the semester is about focusing seniors on their graduation track, credits and eligible awards. Murphy said seniors need to be focusing on what they’ve accomplished outside of school.
“What scholarship committees are looking for are well rounded students who are invested in their community,” Murphy said. “Yes, a GPA is a strong indicator of your cumulative academics of your entire high school career. Anyone can sit in a classroom, what are you doing outside of that?”
Hardin said another change that’s happened with the college process is many state schools requiring acceptance, before applying for scholarships. However, she said that change is not COVID related.