By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – The college admission process has been quite different due to the pandemic, but despite the challenges the Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) Guidance Department has been able to successfully support students and families through the process. Director of Guidance Lisa Connery along with Guidance Counselors Rebecca Haberman and Kate Mulcahy discussed the process at the Dec. 16 Regional School Committee meeting. The department’s support through this process has not changed, but how that information is shared has.
Many of the typical events and meetings have transitioned to a virtual platform, such as college fairs, financial aid presentations, and college representative visits.
ARHS hosted 151 virtual admissions visits this fall for its students as part of the college exploration process.
“The number of colleges that were able to visit with our students increased significantly because admissions counselors were not physically travelling between schools,” said Connery. “The virtual visits really optimized the admissions counselors’ time and that ultimately ended up benefitting our students.”
She anticipates that virtual visits will continue to be a part of the admissions process in the future.
“It never replaces them (students) being able to physically visit a campus, but we have certainly provided them with the information they need to be able to access what is available to them,” said Connery.
Financial aid assistance
Virtual presentations regarding financial aid offered families more flexibility in the time they could participate and were provided all the information to successfully complete the financial aid process.
Scholarship information will be online through Naviance, a college and career planning program used at ARHS.
New ways of testing
Standardized testing has also changed due to the pandemic.
Haberman said that two-thirds of colleges are test optional for the Class of 2021. Many of those schools may keep their test optional policy for a few additional years.
“One good thing coming out of COVID is that maybe colleges will really stop looking at one test to determine whether or not a student is a fit and look at the most important things they bring to the table,” she said.
Traditional senior workshops continue to be held virtually and guidance counselors continue remote individual meetings with students to review their post-secondary plans.
“The process has continued to be pretty seamless for us in our work and between 60-70% of our students still applied early,” said Connery. “I think what is most important right now is to realize that our kids are hopeful and they are excited and they are looking forward to these opportunities even though life is a little different right now.”