March 19, 2020

Dear Juniors, 

What an absolutely unbelievable, incomparable time we’re living through. As second semester juniors, you probably have many questions about how this crisis will affect your college application process. I’m writing to share some concrete thoughts that I hope will help to answer some of your college-related questions.

  1. Junior College Seminar classes will continue online. On days of the rotation when your Seminar section would have met in person, please check the Google Classroom for daily assignments and announcements. The importance of these activities and this portal for information-sharing has just increased 100-fold. Short version: Don’t skip Seminar!
  2. You may have heard that SATs and ACTs are canceled through May. You can find the most up-to-date SAT scheduling information at: https://pages.collegeboard.org/collegeboard-covid-19-updates. For the ACT, please consult: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/covid-19.html.
  3. If you did not have the opportunity to take the SAT and ACT to determine which test is better for you, don’t worry! Just take the following steps:
    1. Go to: https://www.powerscore.com/sat/help/content_practice_tests.cfm.
    2. Download and print PDFs of one ACT practice test and one SAT practice test. (If you don’t have a printer, you can work off the screen; just write your answers on a piece of paper.)
    3. Take each test on separate days. Be strict with yourself about timing each section. Don’t worry about taking the optional writing portions on either test.
    4. Score each test with the answer keys provided at the end of the PDFs.
    5. If you are not able to discern which test was better for you, send an email to collegecounseling@stewardschool.org with your scores.
    6. Once you’ve decided which test is “your” test, you’ll move forward with prep for that test only.
  4. Of course, you can go ahead and sign up for June test dates. If the virus subsides in time, I expect the College Board and ACT will expand test center capacities for June. If not, they may issue refunds or allow you to roll your registration to the fall.
  5. Signing up for summer standardized test prep (i.e. individual tutoring or small group sessions) should be a priority over the next few weeks. While there are many reputable test prep companies in Richmond, we have recommendations that we will share during your Junior Family Meeting. If you need this information before your meeting, just email the college counseling email listed above.
  6. Please remember that almost every junior in the United States is worried about their standardized testing calendar. Colleges know that COVID-19 has upended most juniors’ spring testing calendars, and they are working on contingency plans. For example, on Wednesday afternoon of this week, Case Western University became the first college in the country to announce they would be going test-optional for the first time this fall. I strongly suspect other colleges will follow suit. For those colleges who continue to require standardized test scores, they will have to adjust their calendars to allow for students to test later into the fall.
  7. Speaking of Junior Family Meetings: If you have already had your Junior Family Meeting, proceed to #8. If you have not had your Junior Family Meeting, your parents will receive an email from College Counseling within the next few days. Inside, they’ll find instructions for how to schedule a Zoom video conferencing meeting. Although we obviously would prefer having this meeting at a real table rather than a virtual one, we’ll be able to accomplish everything via Zoom that we would have covered face-to-face. A few additional details regarding meetings:
    1. If you currently have a scheduled meeting for Wednesday, 3/25 onward, it will occur at the date/time you’ve already selected. We’ll send instructions via email for the Zoom meeting.
    2. If you had a meeting scheduled for the current week or Monday or Tuesday of next week (3/16-3/20, plus 3/23-3/24), you will receive priority for rescheduling.
    3. If your parents haven’t submitted their required forms, they still need to do so before you can schedule your meeting.
  8. The College Board is currently working on a method that will allow students to take AP Tests online if schools are still closed in May. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. I will keep you apprised of these developments.
  9. In Dr. Seldis’s recent email, you read about MP3 and MP4 being averaged together to derive a single grade. This change will not be detectable on our transcripts, since we only report semester and final averages for each course.
  10. If you’re concerned about not being able to visit colleges in person during this time, take advantage of online tours. I recommend one website in particular for professionally-created and outstanding virtual college tours: You Visit.
  11. Many colleges are working to put together “virtual visit days” and expanded webinars for juniors. Once you’ve identified a college you’re interested in, visit the college’s “Admissions” web page for specific information about these virtual programs. Most will require advance registration, and colleges are likely to track attendance (which they’ll use as points of demonstrated interest if you apply).
  12. Assuming life returns to normal this summer, expect colleges to widely expand their on-campus programming opportunities. Summer visits are valuable, so don’t underestimate the power of going to campuses during summer break.
  13. Speaking of summer, please continue to work on your plan for how you’re going to do something substantial this summer. Remember, your goal should be a minimum of 20 hours of substantial activity most weeks of the summer. These hours are likely to accrue through a combination of activities (i.e., community service, working, taking a course); however, if you spend 20-30 hours per week on a single activity, that’s fine, too.
  14. I, Ms. Wilkerson, and Ms. Luqman deeply and sincerely appreciate the challenges this time poses for your class in particular. Although it goes without saying, we’re going to say it: Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have. Start by emailing us at collegecounseling@stewardschool.org, since all three of us read emails that come in to that account; you’re likeliest to get a fast response if you contact us there. If, after reading your email, we determine we need a phone or Zoom conversation, we’ll share instructions for how to schedule an appointment.
  15. I’ve saved the most significant point for last. Regarding your preparedness for the college application process: There is nothing more important to concentrate upon in the coming weeks/months than doing well in your online classes. Please do not wrongly assume that classes moving online renders them easier or less important. While all colleges will recognize the challenges of this time, they will still be looking at your grades. The keys to navigating online learning successfully are: staying organized; avoiding procrastination; keeping a strict daily schedule/routine; and reaching out to teachers the moment you need extra help.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to the college counseling team if you have any questions or concerns during this time. I recommend starting with an email to collegecounseling@stewardschool.org. If a phone conversation or Zoom meeting is warranted, we’ll schedule with you via email.

I miss you already!

Warmly,

Mrs. Jeter 
Director of College Counseling

www.stewardschool.org
The Steward School | 11600 Gayton Road | Richmond, VA 23238 | 804-740-3394
Privacy Policy | Email Preferences | View this email on the web