Decisions for Rising Seniors and Recent Grads
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Decisions for Rising Seniors and Recent Grads

Education consultant Dr. Mark Fisher addresses concerns of students in the final year of high school and those beginning college.

Rising high school seniors are typically excited about their last year before college and the culmination of 12 years of primary education. Let’s take a look at issues to consider for graduating seniors and college freshmen.

High School Seniors
Your grades are good or excellent, but your test scores are disappointing for some of the colleges on your list. You wonder: Is it worth it to take the SAT or ACT since they are going to apply to test-optional colleges, about 1,500 schools? Yes, take the test for you may surprise yourself with a higher score than you anticipated. Furthermore, prepare for the test. When you apply to a specific college, try to find out how many students without scores were accepted compared to the number of students who submitted scores.

If you are a good student, do you have a possibility of merit scholarships? The college may be test-optional but not so for merit money. No scores; no chance for a merit scholarship. There are test-optional colleges that still allow students who do not send scores to still be eligible for scholarships.

In Georgia, if one applies to a public university, SAT/ACT scores are obligatory. Thus, if you apply to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University and other public institutions in Georgia, your scores will be reviewed.

Should you apply early action or early decision or only regular decision? Let’s look at the possibilities. Many colleges have early action deadlines, fewer institutions have one or two early decision options, and all have regular decision dates.

Early action means applying by an October or November deadline. If you are accepted, you have until May 1 to decide. No penalty if you do not enroll. Or you may be deferred and put in with the spring decisions. If you are denied admission, the college is telling you that you will not be accepted this application year. So do not lose sleep over that institution.

Early decision is a more difficult choice. Some colleges have an Early Decision 1 but also an Early Decision II with a later application deadline. If Early Decision is a viable option, study the previous year’s acceptance rate for that college.

If accepted, you signed a contract stating that you will enroll with few exceptions. Your decision to go ED means that you have investigated the college as much as possible, and no question this is the college of your dreams. You will receive a response usually in December or early January and you can forget other applications. You are done!

There is a disadvantage to applying Early Decision. You applied to other schools and even received a bigger scholarship, or your best friend got into one of your other options and they urge you to attend their college choice. Sorry, you and your parents and counselor signed a binding ED contract.

College Freshmen
Recent high school graduates going off to colleges also may be anxious about this new era in their lives. Some of their concerns are centered about meeting new classmates, whom their roommate will be the first year, will they be able to handle the college curriculum, did they make the right choice when selecting colleges, especially if they never visited the campus, and will the food be to their liking. If the college has Greek life, will they be invited to join? There are a host of other individual concerns for these soon- to-be-freshman.

Also gearing up for college is the administration. Their concerns include COVID-19 and making decisions to ensure a safe campus. Will they require all students to be vaccinated? What about the requirement to wear masks either indoors and/or outdoors? The decision often involves recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state laws and ongoing court decisions.

Will colleges be requiring the administration, faculty, staff, custodial personnel and other employees of the college to wear masks?

Need more to consider when on campus? Will all classes be in-person? How about online lectures? How did one react to online learning in high school?

While life is returning more to normal, no one knows what to expect. Will a new strand of the virus invade our communities? In Israel, where our son and his family live in Binyomina, the COVID virus seemed quite distant. Then, all a sudden, about 45 high school students tested positive. Binyomina was in the news and the masks became common.

So, at the start of the new academic year, students go back to high school or college with a lot of concerns, some questions from past years, but also new issues resulting from the pandemic.

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