COVID-19. Coronavirus. #NewNormal. It consumes our news feeds, takes center stage in almost all conversations, and has caused any semblance of structure and normalcy to crumble right in front of our eyes. If you’re anything like me, you may struggle to find the good and the beautiful in life right now and while it is important to acknowledge these emotions, it is essential that we find the silver linings.
I’ll start. My personal silver linings include nature walks with my children, blowing lots and lots of bubbles, and re-evaluating why I didn’t pursue a career as a Disney movie singer as I belt out movie tunes with my children. And my professional silver linings are that our team is still able to carry on and feel connected to one another, we are able to see (Zoom) with our current students, and engage with YOU while we are not physically on our campus.
What does this have to do with your college search? Let me guess – your email inbox is flooded with content from colleges and universities from around the world touting virtual sessions, virtual chats, virtual tours…stopping short of popping into your house like the 3D animals on Google (seriously, entertainment for hours on end). And while you were likely excited to visit college campuses this spring, you may now be overwhelmed by the amount of college content now being thrust at your inbox…but there are silver linings here!
- You are now more connected to the college search process than ever before. Never have college admissions offices been so readily available beyond the bounds of our physical campuses. Sure, we may have historically traveled to your area at certain times throughout the year, but you can now visit hundreds of college campuses in your pajamas from the comfort of your couch. With no financial investment on your part. Of course, this cannot replace visiting in person, but you may be better able to filter the list of schools to consider earlier on and reduce the financial investment in visiting campuses to include only those that make your short list.
- We may be a computer screen away, but we are dedicated to making connections. We’re all craving human interaction, so take this time to meet some (admissions) strangers. So, sign up for the virtual information session. I can assure you we, too, are in athleisure wear. Our virtual tours may not be as exciting as the live video feeds at the zoo, but what a great way to see a new place and maybe, a new part of the country or world!
- Find the People. Whether it’s a conversation with current students facilitated by the office of admissions, talking with young alumni in your hometown, or an initial conversation with your admissions representative, I can assure you that those individuals who are deeply connected to the institution are eager to reminisce and share their experiences with you right now.
- Want to know how you’ll be supported as a student? No better time than now to truly witness how colleges are responding to a pandemic and supporting their current students. Assessing the academic, emotional, and social support systems utilized by each institution are a bit more transparent now as we all transition to a remote learning world. Impressed by an institution now? Just imagine the experience when we all return to our physical spaces!
- Worried that grades and test scores don’t accurately reflect you as an individual? Although it is difficult to predict with great accuracy how colleges will review applications in the years to come, rest assured that each of our offices will have to adapt. And for those who have not historically offered test optional policies (Furman has since 2011) or utilized holistic review, you will start seeing drastic changes across the board.
And as much as this post is to instill confidence in you high school sophomores and juniors to continue exploring colleges during this time, I also want you to know that if you’re not up for it right now, that’s ok too. You may need this time to re-define your own academic expectations or family boundaries and structures, create new social norms, and to invest in yourself. When the time is right for you to start thinking about the next steps in your college search, we’ll be here (at a social distance).
What are your daily silver linings? I’d love to know!
Melissa Cline, Director of Admissions