My son in an 11th grader and my daughter is in her 3rd year of a 5-year program at Drexel University in Pennsylvania. I share this now because I want you to understand that I don’t just professionally empathize with your concerns, I’m living them. And, I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can (in both capacities) to ensure that you/your child has everything they need to pursue and achieve their post-high school dreams.

My role is not just to get your kid ‘to college’; it’s to ensure that they’re set up to succeed ‘through it’. Our relationships with the families we work with go well beyond high school.

And to that end, there have been a number of important announcements on college openings and changes in college admissions that are listed at the end of this email. But as I alluded to, passing along information just skims the surface of our commitment.

Just to illustrate, last night I was speaking with the mother of one of our 11th grade students. That’s important because while you probably know that we’ve added a special 5-week college application class to our program, you might not know the real reason why. But this mom did, and she has been gracious enough to allow me to tell you parts of our conversation in the hopes it might help another family.

See, we have always provided our students with a college application summer program. That course always begins near the end of June and runs until the first week in August. This is by design. The end of June start is late enough to give most kids a chance to let loose a little, to unwind from the pressures of the previous school year; while the early August ending allows them to create a Submit-worthy college application in a stress free, appropriately paced environment BEFORE the pressure of the new school year hits. They get the ‘hard stuff’ out of the way BEFORE they have to balance their efforts with a full class schedule, extra-curriculars and other college-prep related activities. 

This year is different. This year, our kids have been stuck ‘inside’, bored with NOT HAVING THE PRESSURES OF ‘REGULAR’ SCHOOL… ‘quarantined’ with limited social interaction for weeks; in some cases for months. When late June hits, and life begins to revert to some semblance of ‘normal,’ the last thing I want, and the last thing they will want is for college applications or admissions anxiety to limit their first taste of ‘freedom’. I want them to really enjoy summer!! 

Which brings me back to last night. I started working with this family when their child was in 10th grade; and frankly, their decision to work with me was definitely more the parents’ idea than the child’s. They came to me to provide their daughter a little push – academically and otherwise. They wanted to offer her a chance to find her own motivation to reach her potential- and as is the case for many of our families – they needed an independent voice to help her find her path.  

I called the mother because I noticed that she had tried unsuccessfully to register online for the five-week program (she wasn’t successful because as one of our Gold students, her participation is free of charge). First, we marveled together about how far her daughter had come – how much she’s matured in the last six or so months. Her daughter was no longer a reluctant participant, ‘getting by’ in school and being dragged to our offices for college counseling. In her place is an inquisitive, mature young woman so motivated that she took it upon herself to register for our May 20 – June 17 application course. We laughed that it was like one of us back in the day going from a slacker using ‘cliff notes’ to a curious learner doing the ‘extra reserve reading’ just for fun. 
Then we discussed that her daughter (like many of our kids and many of us) is just so tired of ‘waiting’. So many of us are yearning to do something productive right NOW, so that when summer is in mid-swing and our world begins to open up again, our kids will get to be kids again. As parents we agreed they’ll need to go run and play. In fact, we’ll ALL want to/need to run and play a little bit.  She recognized that the timing of our program, while we are all still sheltered-in-place, is perfect. In just a few weeks, her daughter will be taking care of business, feeling accomplished and confident. And when she can, she’ll be able to ‘play’, free from her own anxiety, free from her parents’ nagging, because she will have finished one of the most important components of the college admissions process!

That is exactly why we added the May-June application program. I wanted to give her child, your child (and frankly, my child) every opportunity to have a fun and carefree summer! 

The class starts on May 20th. If you think you’d like to offer your 11th grade child the same opportunity, you can click here to review the syllabus and learn more. We are filling up, but we do have some spots left for your 11th grader.

Now onto what we learned this week:

1. Today, May 1, is the traditional day for students to commit to colleges, also known as Decision Day, or College Signing Day. It provides a sense of certainty and pride for high school seniors (and their parents) who, for several months now or even for a few years, were unsure where they would end up after high school.

But for today’s seniors, it’s been a more complex decision day than usual. Though about 400 schools have ‘extended’ decision day to June 1, so many families have had to make a choice without clear guidance on whether campuses will open on time; whether classes will be online; whether Fall activities will resume as ‘normal’; and whether the spirit of fall college sports will resume. Will the Big House be filled with 107,000 Michigan Faithful in September? Will crew teams and fans gather in Boston for the Head of the Charles?

The good news is that most colleges will open their campuses this Fall! They have to. Enrollment, which was beginning to decline anyway, will take a precipitous drop if they don’t. It’s a reality that colleges are facing – so the question is not so much whether they will open, it’s how and to a lesser extent, when. A good resource that is tracking college opening announcements is The Chronicle of Higher Education.

2. State funding for education is likely to be cut. This will have a huge impact in three areas: 1) state funding for secondary school programs, including college readiness programs and advisors; 2) post-secondary funding for faculty, capital improvement projects and similar (we will also see more online learning and increased student fees); and 3) state-subsidized scholarship programs such as Florida’s Bright Futures program. Back in 2008, we saw similar measures taken, including the introduction of income-testing for FL Bright Futures.

3.Some big news for FL residents and those interested in FL Universities: According to a recent article in The Orlando Sentinel, the Florida public universities are seeking to temporarily change the admissions requirements at all 12 public universities. On May 5th, the Florida Board of Governors will consider dropping standardized test scores as a requirement for admissions. This would allow all Florida public universities (including UF, FSU, UCF and others) to temporarily enact a ‘test optional’ admissions policy. This would be consistent with what has already occurred in California, Oregon and Maine, and I expect Florida to follow suit. No word yet on whether the change in policy, if approved, would affect Bright Futures requirements. We’ll keep you posted.

Once again, if you have an 11th grader and would like to sign up for our May Application Program, click here to get more information.

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