Author Archives: cklaaradmin

Is your target college in danger of going bust?

If you’re a rising senior, you’re probably looking forward to your upcoming college years with great anticipation. You’ve worked hard for the credentials that will qualify you for admission to College just aheadthe schools that fit you best. College is the prize!

But what happens to your aspirations if you enroll at a college that closes its doors when you’re a freshman? You’d be forced to transfer to another college –  one that might not suit you as well. It’s possible that the new one might fail too, forcing a second transfer in pursuit of your Bachelor’s degree. You’d end up spending most of your precious college years gaining and then losing friends, mentors, coaches, jobs, and some credits too. Not to mention the loss to your peace of mind.

Colleges fail

This is not a far-fetched scenario. Colleges fail. In fact, a surprisingly large number of them have failed or been struggling in recent years, even before Covid-19 struck. Experts predict that about 20% of colleges will close in the next few years due to a combination of the pandemic, changing demographics, state disinvestment, and unaffordable tuition. If you’re going to college in 2021, you should find out if your targeted colleges are likely to be among the 80% that will survive.

Top-tier private colleges with multi-billion dollar endowments were given millions in Federal pandemic relief (with many, but not all, returning the money). However, the most at-risk colleges were excluded from the relief legislation. This neglect, added to the problems noted above, will take a heavy toll on the ones most likely to fold, which are small, private colleges with small endowments. Some of them have been operating at break-even or a small deficit for years. Even a slight decline in enrollment can be ruinous because they don’t have large endowments to cushion the blow. The pandemic will be their death knell.

A number of small private colleges have already closed or have announced a closing date in the near future. Here are a few examples:

• MacMurray College, IL
• Urbana University, OH
• Holy Family College, WI
• Pine Manor College, MA
• Nebraska Christian College, NE
• Robert Morris University, IL
• Concordia University, OR
• School of Architecture at Taliesin, WI
• Watkins College, TN
• Marlboro College, MA

Colleges tightening their belts

Many small colleges are adopting severe austerity measures in an effort to avoid closing. Even if they succeed in surviving, you’ll want to assess the likely impact of these measures on you as a student.

Public institutions, even some large ones like Rutgers and Michigan, are also feeling the pinch. States are compelled to cut their education budgets due to the statewide expenses and loss of tax revenue wrought by the pandemic. Public colleges have never fully recovered from heavy cuts to their budgets in the wake of the Great Recession. Add the current budget crisis on top of that and it’s inevitable that some state campuses will be closed.

Even large public and private universities that are expected to survive the pandemic will need to tighten their belts. You should stay informed because your target universities may discontinue the degree programs, majors, and courses in which you’re most interested. There’ll be reductions in faculty that will change the faculty-to-student ratio and impair mentorship programs that may be important to you.

How to research a college’s financial health

You’ll encounter two problems when you search for financial information upon which to base your decisions. First, a private non-profit college is not obligated to make financial statements available to the public. Second, the financial condition of all individual public colleges will be aggregated within the entire state university system, so you won’t be able to discern the financial outlook for a particular campus. Obviously, you won’t find even a hint of the possibility of a college closing on its website. Websites are marketing tools that try to recruit you, not discourage you.

The best way to obtain the information you need to assess a college is to enter the college’s name in a web search engine. If a college is experiencing difficulties, this will be reported in the local press because colleges are important to a community’s well-being.

The Common Data Set (CDS) is another a valuable resource. CDS is an intermediary used by colleges to provide institutional data to interested parties. It’s a collaborative effort between colleges and publishers who report on them, including Peterson’s, the Thomson Corporation, U.S. News & World Report, and the College Board. The purpose of CDS is to improve the accuracy of the information that’s released to interested parties, including you. To find the CDS data set for a particular college, enter “Common Data Set “Name-of-College” into a web search engine.

COVID-19 has come and it will go, but the uncertainty plaguing students at certain colleges across the country will remain. Try not to share their predicament. Use available resources to assess the financial stability of colleges before you apply.

Gap Year Programs for 2020 – 2021

If you’ve accepted a college’s offer of admission, you may find yourself in a dilemma. You may not know if the campus will be open in the fall or if classes will be online, so you’re hesitant to pay a substantial sum for what may be only a facsimile of college life. Or you may simply be reluctant to join campus life while the coronavirus is still extant.  Instead, you may want to consider a gap year program.

Colleges that plan to re-open their campuses in the fall are introducing so many restrictions to cope with Covid-19 that it can hardly be considered college life. You may prefer to save money by attending a local community college and then transferring to a four-year college or enrolling at a state college for all four years.

Another alternative is to attend the college whose offer you’ve accepted but wait until all contingencies caused by the pandemic are resolved and normal campus life has resumed. You can choose this path if the college allows you to take a gap year during the 2020-21 academic year. Under present conditions, many institutions have revised their policies so that you can be granted a gap year after you’ve accepted their offer of admission.

Before a college approves your request, they want to know that your plans for the year are worthy of the privilege. The most popular gap activities have been packaged programs involving overseas travel. However, due to the pandemic, traveling abroad isn’t a good idea now, so international gap programs have been shut down.

The idea that you need to travel to a developing country, learn about its language, people, and culture, and improve people’s lives, simply isn’t practical in 2020. But you don’t need to go abroad to improve people’s lives. By revealing harsh inequities in our society, the pandemic has made it clearly evident that there’s plenty of help needed in our own country.

Gap Year Programs for 2020-21

An online search will enable you to review gap programs that conform to this year’s constraints. These programs allow you to assist those people most in need in your area as a result of the pandemic. A few of the programs are described below:

1. Global Citizen Year – When Covid-19 struck, Global Citizen Year converted its international travel-based gap program into a virtual leadership course. Among the features of the program is that students will be matched with mentors in their planned profession who will coach them on a one-on-one basis toward their goals.

2.  Americorp – This national service initiative is recruiting for programs like VISTA, whose            volunteers work on poverty-related projects all over the United States. AmeriCorps covers living expenses and includes an education award to help pay college costs. See additional options on this site.

3. Service Year Alliance – This nonprofit lists even more gap year activities than Americorp. It focuses on areas such as the environment, health and nutrition. aging, disability, homelessness and housing, disaster, animals, and public safety. Taking a Service Year provides you with an opportunity to develop real-world skills through hands-on service to those in need. A stipend is paid to participants.

4. The 2020 Election Gap Year Program – This organization’s mission is to: “Empower our nation’s youth to take an intentional gap year in 2020 to work on an election campaign or for an issues-based organization that resonates with their values.”  ​The program lets you engage in our democracy. You’ll defer college by taking a gap semester in fall 2020 so that you can dedicate yourself to campaign work, getting out the vote, or organizing around an issue that’s important to you. The organization provides assistance in obtaining permission from your college.

The Benefits of a Gap Year

A gap year is more than a way to cope with the present moment. In recent years, there has been increasing awareness of the benefits of gap years to students and colleges. This accounts for the growth in the number of students requesting permission to take a gap year and the willingness of colleges to grant them.

Conceptually, the purpose of a freshman gap year is to allow a student who has been driven to excel throughout high school some time to relax and reassess while engaging in a purposeful pursuit. For example, Harvard’s rationale for their gap program is: “Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way — provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college.”

 Some colleges provide a structured, pre-approved approach to gap year activity. The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill offers incoming students the opportunity to participate in their Global Gap Year Fellowship, which is described as  “…the only college-sponsored gap year program that allows students to design their own gap-year experience. Fellows are encouraged to create their service-based gap years with the full support and guidance of our staff and faculty.”

In addition to college-sponsored gap programs, there’s a growing mini-industry of gap program providers. Many of these organizations, such as Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School, are members of the American Gap Association, a professional group that sets standards and accredits participants.

Gap Year Pros and Cons:

Like all important decisions, you should consider the pros and cons of taking a gap year between high school and college. Below are those associated with an academic year that doesn’t have the added pressures of 2020.

Pros:

1. After the intensive grind of college admissions… you’re fried! You’ll benefit from being in a non-competitive environment for a while to assure that you’ll be at your best when you begin college. You’ll return from your gap year with your vitality restored and your focus sharpened,

2. Research (see Middlebury College website) indicates that students who have taken a gap year perform better in college than those who have not,

3. It allows you to learn about an unfamiliar culture and region,

4. You’ll have an opportunity to become fluent in another language by immersing yourself with native speakers,

5. It enables you to develop leadership and self-reliance skills, and to grow in maturity, independence, and self-confidence.

6. Participating in a gap year program displays the qualities that post-college employers will be looking for in professional hires, and,

7. During your gap year, you’ll be part of a community of peers with aspirations and goals like yours. You’ll form lifelong friendships.

Cons:

1. A major reason why most students choose not to take a gap year is that they don’t want to fall out of step with their class. Their friends will be going away to college in August and they want to share that experience,

2. Certain financial aid programs require students to attend college without a break in order to remain eligible for funding each year, and,

3. Packaged gap programs can be expensive. If your family is stretching its budget to pay for college, the added cost of a gap program may be too much. However, low cost options such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps are likely to be approved by your college.

For more thoughts on gap years, visit this earlier post.  And, as always, contact me with any questions – [email protected]

The earth has shifted for most American colleges

The admissions results for the Class of 2024 may be the final snapshot of a passing era. The deadline for applications was the end of January. Decisions were announced in late March. By April 1, most colleges had ceased operation due to the pandemic. Therefore, admissions to the Class of 2024 were not affected by the pandemic, but next year’s certainly will be.

Since decisions were released, the pandemic has frustrated those admittees who must choose from multiple acceptance offers. For those who have made their choice, the pandemic is interfering with all that normally precedes the fall semester.

Exactly what the fall semester will entail is unclear. Most college administrations are undecided, Columbia Universibut some have announced that students will be on campus in the fall with social distancing rules in place. Others have determined that they’ll only offer online classes in the fall. Many students will need to weigh the health risk of the full campus experience against the safety of virtual classrooms. Understandably, a higher than usual percentage of students are considering taking a gap year.

The earth has shifted for most American colleges

They will be severely tested by the decline in revenue that the pandemic is causing. Many will be forced to reduce their budgets, which may mean cuts to faculty, curricula, majors, residential and campus amenities, sports, recreational and cultural programs, and other features of a college’s value to students. This portends significant changes to the historical patterns of college admissions.

One positive result of this unpredictability is that waitlisted students are much more likely to be admitted. Concern over potentially low yield rates has motivated even the most elite colleges to go deeper into their waitlists than in the past. If you’re waitlisted, don’t hesitate to call an admissions office for an update on your status.

Although there were a few anomalies in the 2020 results, most colleges, especially the most highly selective ones, continued their pre-pandemic trend towards more applications and lower admissions rates. Table A shows the rates for a sampling of highly selective and popular regional institutions compared to their rates in 2019. Following Table A are comments about a few of the colleges.

 Table A: Admission Rates for the Class of 2024 (Fall 2020)

 

Institution

Class of 2024

Admission Rate (%)

    Class of 2023

Admission Rate (%)

American University 38              35
Amherst College 12              11
Barnard College 11              11
Boston College 24              27
Boston University 19              18
Bowdoin College 8                9
Brown University 7                7
CalTech 6                6
Carleton College 20             19
Clemson University 47             47
Colby College 9             10
Columbia Int’l University 34             33
Columbia University 6               5
Cornell University 11             11
Dartmouth College 9               8
Duke University 8               7
Emory University 20            27
Emory (Oxford) 23            20
Fordham 46            44
Furman College 61            61
Georgia Tech 20            19
Georgetown University 15            14
George Washington 39            41
Harvard University 5              5
Johns Hopkins University 9              9
Lander University 43           43
Limestone College 14           14
Macalester College 37           31
Middlebury College 24           16
MIT 7             7
New York University 15          16
Northeastern 19          18
Northwestern University 9            9
Princeton University 6            6
Rice University 10            9
Swarthmore College 9            9
Tufts University 15         15
University of Chicago 6           6
University of Georgia 46         45
University of Florida 29         34
University of Notre Dame 17         16
University of Pennsylvania 8           7
Univ. Southern California 16         11
Univ. of South Carolina 63         63
University of Virginia 21         24
Vanderbilt University 9           8
Washington University 13          14
Wellesley College 19          20
Wesleyan University 20          16
Wofford College 64          66
Yale University 6.5            5

Middlebury College: The admissions rate at Middlebury retreated sharply from 16% in 2019 to 24% in 2020. No explanation has been provided by the school’s press office.

Emory University: Emory’s admissions rate tightened from 27% in 2019 to 21% this year.

Brown University: Brown’s results for the Early Decision cycle saw applications up to an all-time high of 4,562. Its ED admissions rate was the lowest in the school’s history at 18%. However, the Regular Decision rate rose from 2019, bringing the overall admissions rate more in line with past results at 7%.

University of Southern California: USC’s acceptance rate increased to 16% for the Class of 2024, up from 11% in 2019. The University received 6,000 fewer applications in 2020 than in 2019. This is the first year that prospective students applied to the University after the Varsity Blues scandal, and the results are considered a reflection of that fact.

Wesleyan University: Wesleyan accepted 2,351 students to the Class of 2024 out of 12,752 applicants. While the University has experienced an upward trend in applications in the past, the applicant pool was smaller than usual this year. As a result, the admissions rate eased from 16% in 2019 to 20% in 2020.

Williams College: Williams admitted more students than usual this year in anticipation of a less predictable yield. Over the last five years, the College has accepted an average of 1,197 students for a target class size of 550. This year, Williams admitted 1,250, making it one of the few colleges that anticipated the potential ramifications of the pandemic in its early stages.

I’ve guided hundreds of students to college success, let me be your guide as well! Email me at [email protected]

Learn How to Conquer College in the Coronavirus Era

The college admissions process has become increasingly more complex in the past decade.  But the quarantine orders caused by the COVID-19 have added a whole new level of stress and uncertainty.

But the situation may also offer some opportunities if you know how to take advantage of them!

Join me for my “Conquer College” Zoom Summer Camps to learn what you need to:

  • Get into competitive SAT/ACT testing slots
  • How you may be able to renegotiate your financial aid, or for the class of 2021, how to get the best possible financing.
  • How to tackle the dreaded college essay. We’ll discuss how to find the right topic and how to structure it so it reflects who you are and why you would be a great addition to the campus community. Dr. Klaar will edit and send comments post-seminar.
  • You’ll also complete the Common Application and your resume!
  • Klaar will also give you tips on virtual college visits, how to research potential colleges and how to maintain your activity resume during lockdown.

Dates:  June 16 – 18, 1 – 4:30 p.m. each day, with a break from 2:30 – 3 p.m.

Cost: $300

Dr. Klaar has lowered the price by nearly 50% to help families who may be struggling during this difficult time.

The camp is limited to 10 students so that Dr. Klaar can provide individual attention to each student.

 

To reserve your spot, visit Eventbrite  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/conquer-college-in-the-coronavirus-era-tickets-105134263412

[email protected], www.cklaar.com   803-487-9777

Charlotte Klaar, PhD is a Certified Educational Planner with 25-plus years of experience.  She is recognized as one of the nation’s top college consultants and has led hundreds of students to college success!  Dr. Klaar works with students nationwide and in St. Thomas through Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype.

 Co-sponsored by Loom Coworking, Gallery and Event Space http://loomcoworking.com/.

 

FREE Zoom session: College admissions in the coronavirus era

Join Charlotte Klaar, PhD, for a free Zoom session on college admissions during the pandemic lockdown on Thursday, May 28 at 12 noon.  Dr. Klaar will discuss:

1. SAT/ACT Testing changes due to Covid-19
2. Possible college scenarios for the Fall 0f 2020.
3. How this affects the class of 2020 in terms of financial aid renegotiation, waitlist movement, and deferrals.
4. How it affects the class of 2021: visits that can’t happen, testing that was cancelled, maintaining the activity resume during lockdown.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-webinar-on-college-admissions-changes-with-the-coronavirus-tickets-105799773972

For questions, please contact Charlotte Klaar, PhD,  at [email protected], 803-487-9777.

 

SAT and ACT Testing Upended!

COVID-19 has disrupted many college admissions processes, including SAT and ACT testing, for students who will be seeking admission in 2021 — high school juniors.  Almost all colleges are now closed and the ad hoc methods adopted to provide admissions-related services are still focused on the needs of current seniors who were admitted this year, but they’ll soon be able to devote more attention to your needs. Events are unfolding at a rapid pace and you need to stay current on changes that affect you. Please follow my Twitter feed (@charlotteklaar) for up-to-the -minute information.

 The SAT and ACT Exams

Perhaps the most annoying issue facing juniors is standardized tests. Scores from the SAT or ACT exams remain a requirement for admission at the majority of colleges.

On April 16, the College Board announced that it had canceled the June 6th testing date for the SAT. The Board also announced that there will be a test in August and an additional test in September, pandemic or no pandemic.

Since all of the spring SAT dates have been cancelled, one additional test in September won’t satisfy demand. If you want a test seat, try to register early. Seats are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The SAT test schedule for the fall won’t be released until May, but it’s safe to assume that there will be a test offered every month after July for the rest of 2020.

The same holds true for the ACT;  when new seats open up in August or in the fall, you should promptly book a seat for any date that you can get.

Due to the spring cancellations of the SAT and ACT, and even with an added test, it’s expected that the shortage of test seats will be in the hundreds of thousands. Even if you prefer the SAT to the ACT or vice versa, take any test for which you’re able to register. Studying for one is almost the same as studying for the other. Just make sure you familiarize yourself with the different formats, timeframes, and essay requirements.

It has been announced by both the SAT and ACT organizations that, if closures prevent the resumption of tests at central locations, it’s highly likely that there will not be enough seats for all of the students seeking one. As a result, they’re developing digital versions of the tests for students to take at home if needed. Since the College Board will be offering AP exams online, it’s already building an online testing capability that could also be used for the SAT, although the SAT will be harder to reproduce online due to its length, complexity, security requirements, and volume.

Test Optional Policies

 Juniors are forced into a corner due to the spring test cancellations. In normal times, it’s recommended that you take the SAT or ACT at least twice and, in some cases, three times in order to obtain your best possible scores before applying to colleges. Under current conditions, you should assume that you’ll only be able to take the test once. This means that, if you’re only going to get one shot, you’d better prepare diligently for it.

Many colleges were test-optional before the pandemic. For those that were not, the Coronavirus has encouraged many more to adopt test optional policies. But this doesn’t really present an opportunity for you to avoid the tests. The SAT and ACT are tools that applicants use to differentiate themselves from their peers in order to be accepted by competitive colleges. The tests will continue to be essential for that purpose even if the colleges that you apply to have test optional policies.

Ways for Juniors to Remain Engaged in the Admissions Process

 It would be a mistake to NOT pursue admissions-related activities during the coming weeks. Here are some ways that you can stay on track to meet your educational goals:

Virtual Classes – If your high school is teaching courses online, give the classes and homework
Online learning
your full attention. Schools were compelled to throw together modified lesson plans and use unsuitable online tools. There are excellent online classroom systems on the market, and, given time, high schools will upgrade. Meanwhile, put in the work.

College List – Here’s how it usually goes. Your College List consists of the approximately  nine schools to which you’ll apply in senior year because they fit your selection criteria best. They’re divided into three tiers; the colleges you’re almost certain to be admitted to, the colleges you’ll probably be admitted to, and the colleges you aspire to attend but which are less likely to admit you. The characteristic that all colleges on the list have in common is that you’d be happy to attend any of them. It’s best to have this list finalized early in senior year, so by now you should have a handle on it.

That’s how it works in a normal year. The pandemic has changed things. There are now a number of reasons to re-examine your College List because your selection criteria may have changed. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Can I still afford these colleges?
  • Do I want to borrow extensively to attend this college, considering possible changes in future employment opportunities?
  • Is this college experiencing such a reduction in revenue that they’ll need to cut faculty, majors, programs, student activities, or campus amenities next year?
  • Should I stay closer to home due to family responsibilities?
  • Would I be better off attending community college for the first two years?
  • Should I postpone college for a year?

College Visits – Actual visits are the best way to learn about what you like and dislike about a college on your preliminary College List. But college visits have been cancelled. When they’ll resume is unknown. Many colleges are now offering virtual information sessions and directing students to virtual tours of the campus. While a virtual tour isn’t as good as the real thing, it can be beneficial. You can also learn much about a college from a one-on-one conversation with an admissions officer.

Extracurricular Activities – The activities that you were planning to use to enhance your case for admission may have been cancelled. Admissions officers will take this into consideration Playing sportsbecause this has happened to all applicants. However, you may wish to show your creativity by figuring out how to pursue your interests and passions virtually or by finding a way to help your community during quarantine.

Preparing for Applications – Normally, initial preparations for your applications begin in the summer before senior year. But, since you may have time on your hands, feel free to get a head start. Open a Common App account and become familiar with the platform. Brainstorm essay topics and develop an outline of your personal statement. Take a look at the activity section, which may be expanded by the Common App, and consider how to present your extracurricular activities.

 There are ways for students and families to cope with the rapid flow of admissions-related changes during the pandemic. Relying on an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) such as Klaar College Consulting is foremost among them. We’re professionals who track changes in the admissions field on an ongoing basis, and never more diligently than under current unprecedented conditions.

COVID-19 Induced Options for the Classes of 2020 and 2021

This is a very difficult time for our country and the world. Among the most significantly affected are those students about to graduate from high school or those beginning their college search while being unable to visit colleges or speak to other students. Hang in there with me as a wade into why a gap yer may be a great idea for some high school students.

I am concerned about these students for a number of reasons. These are the kids whose stress level has always been very high. They are bombarded by the perceived need to take the most difficult courses, to get almost perfect test scores, and to simultaneously be intricately involved in a series of activities within which they are all expected to achieve leadership roles. Now in their junior or senior year of high school, the uncontrollable monster arrives, and no one has the answer to how to make the world safe.

Can you see how this added stress and inability to control their lives would affect a population that is already stretched to the max? There is no way to convince these young adults that the world will ever be safe for them again, because we don’t believe that ourselves.

Those of us who lived through prior national and international crises see this one differently. Unlike after the 1960s riots, an election will not change the history of race relations. Unlike after 9/11, there is not a visible enemy to fight against. This virus came out of the blue and is taking down the world. Governments do not have the answer. Religious leaders don’t have the answer. Scientists are working diligently to unravel the mystery themselves.

A Class Missing Out

The graduating class of 2020, will not have graduation ceremonies, proms and the normal celebratory trappings of their senior year.   Plus, they must decide which admission offers to take without another visit to confirm their choices. They don’t know if they will be taking classes in lecture halls or on their computers. They don’t know if they will be safe on the campus they choose.

The conditions they used to decide which colleges to apply to may have changed significant. In some cases, the family’s finances may have become shaky. In others, going far away from home is no longer as attractive as it may once have been. For others, the family may have endured illness or even death at the hand of Covid-19.

The Class of 2021 is in its Own Quandary

How to they make decisions when the world is upside down? What records will colleges look at more stringently next year than they would have in past years? Will their academic record be valued now that its delivery method has changed? How do activities continue to be meaningful in the era of social distancing? With standardized tests being repeatedly cancelled, will they play any part in the process? For kids who do better with in-person rather than virtual tutoring, how do they get that when they can’t leave their homes?

For both classes, what happens to the students who were hanging on to their mental stability by a thread and now have something to be really anxious about?  How do we help them maintain their mental health when they cannot socialize as normal teenagers do?

I suggest that we remove the stress from these kids and offer some alternatives to what they view as life-or-death decisions. Consider a gap year! I am not talking about putting off college forever or backpacking through Europe.

But how about letting these kids take a year where they can get a job and attend college at night or online? Perhaps a different kind of learning in which they intern or volunteer in the type of setting they have chosen as a possible career, to see if that’s the right road for them when they finally do begin college.

In addition to the mental health benefits of a gap year, there’s the added benefit having  another year to mature and to make some money to help fund their college educations or to help the family. If they volunteer in the gap year, they are helping others who are less fortunate than they are. There is always someone who is worse off than you are. Make the offer to your kids and let them think about it for a bit before making a decision. You may be surprised at the relief you and they will feel when leaving home is put off for a bit.

If you need help putting together a meaningful plan, call me!

College Admissions and the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus has caused a great many temporary changes to college admission processes in general and to the specific admissions practices of colleges. This has caused such confusion that it has become difficult to track all of the changes that may affect you at this critical juncture in your education.

The ACT’s, SAT’s, and SAT Subject Tests have been cancelled through June. New York State Regents exams have been cancelled. It’s been announced by the College Board that AP courses and exams will be modified so that they can be conducted online. Tours of colleges have ceased just as we near the peak visiting months. These are just a few of the developments that may impact you in a time that can be confusing under the best of circumstances.

There are ways to help you cope with the ever-changing events. Relying on an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) such as Klaar College Consulting is foremost among them. We’re professionals who track changes in the admissions field on an ongoing basis, and never more diligently than under these unprecedented conditions.

Klaar College Consulting is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), which recently announced two new online tools to facilitate tracking changes that may affect you.

The first tool, the College Admission Status Update, includes changes to college deadlines, events, and policies caused by the pandemic. The second tool, the Secondary Schools College Admission Services Update, provides updated information about high schools to students whose schools are closed.

The NACAC College Admission Status Update 

This is an online database updated by more than 900 colleges, with more contributing to it every day. The tool has six filters for use in searching for updated information about a specific college, as follows:

  1. Name of Institution
  2. Country (pull down list)
  3. State/Territory (pull down list)
  4. Open to Admissions Visitors (Yes/No)
  5. Currently Hosting Admissions Events (Yes/No)
  6. Changed Deposit Deadline (Yes/No)

When you find a specific college, a range of information is provided to you, if available. Using Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, as an example, the information provided is as follows:

  1. Date of Last Update:  March 16, 2020
  2. Open to Admission Visitors:  No
  3. Allow Overnight Visits:  No
  4. Currently Hosting Admission Events:  No
  5. Date(s) of Events: n/a
  6. Intended Audience:  n/a
  7. Adjusted Candidate Reply Date Deadline Beyond May 1:  Yes
  8. New Reply Deadline:  June 1, 2020
  9. Changed Deposit Deadline:  Yes
  10. New Deposit Deadline:  June 1, 2020
  11. Links to More Information:

Link to NACAC college admission website page:

The NACAC Secondary Schools College Admission Services Update

Most high schools are closed and classes, if held at all, are online only. It’s difficult for guidance counselors to meet students’ needs for transcripts, advice, letters of recommendation, and other admissions requirements. This is a crowd-sourced tool that enables high school guidance counselors and administrators to report to the general public the status of services at their schools and revised dates.

The tool has five filters for use in searching for updated information about a high school, as follows:

  1. Institution Name
  2. Country (pull down list)
  3. State/Territory (pull down list)
  4. School Building Closed (Yes/No)
  5. Have Online Access to Students and Families (Yes/No)

Upon locating a specific high school, you’ll find the following information, if reported. Using Tempe Union High School in Tempe, Arizona, as an example, the information available includes:

  1. Date of Last Update: March 30, 2020
  2. School Type: Public
  3. School Building Closed: Yes
  4. Administration Announced Reopen Date: Yes
  5. Reopen Date for Online Teaching: March 30, 2020
  6. Reopen Date of Physical Campus: n/a
  7. Reopen Date Comments: Buildings are closed for the spring semester
  8. Administration or Staff Working Remotely? Yes
  9. Have Online Access to Students and Families? Yes
  10. Coronavirus-Related Link: tempeunion.org/health-safety
  11. Plan for Issuing Final Course Grade: Grade as usual based on full semester (teaching online)
  12. Can Provide Upon Request: College counseling services, updated transcripts, communication with admission offices on behalf of students, and other admission-related requirements.
  13. Contact for Counseling Office: [email protected]; (480) 706-7900 ext. 70135.

The secondary school tool also collects information regarding the questions to which students have been seeking answers on college websites. The sample questions below are from Tempe Union High School students:

  • Are you willing to change test requirements for juniors or seniors given that SAT/ACT test dates have been cancelled?
  • Will you require final high school transcripts for accepted or waitlisted seniors?
  • Has your college announced if early course registrations and summer programs will be offered?
  • How do you plan to handle AP course completion and testing for admissions and placement purposes?

Link to NACAC secondary schools website page

How the Pandemic Affects High School Seniors

For the most part, admission decision notifications have been sent out as scheduled. Many colleges have announced that they’re pushing back the Common Reply Date to give seniors more time to review their options and make their final decisions.

Physical meetings for admitted students have been cancelled. Plans for virtual events have been or soon will be announced by most colleges. For the duration of campus closures, colleges will use mail, email, social media, and updates to their websites to communicate with admitted applicants.

H.S. juniors & seniors – use enforced downtime wisely!

This is a scary time for all of us, but for your high school juniors and seniors, it holds many uncertainties that add to this already angst-ridden time in their lives. I offer some reassurances and suggestions for each class below.

High School Juniors:

I encourage you to recognize that you will not be penalized by the colleges for not being able to participate in activities or for not getting your testing done as scheduled. Many colleges are considering relaxing their testing requirements for the class of 2021. Even if this does not college boundhappen, there are more than 1,000 U. S. colleges that are already test optional or test flexible. Many of these are highly prestigious institutions.

You will not be able to visit colleges this Spring, but you can do virtual tours of the colleges you are considering (CampusReel, YouVisit, eCampusTours). When the crisis ends, and it will, you can go on your grand tour and walk the colleges that are on your short list.

This is a good time to take a hard look at your list and to make it solid. If you had planned on working with a college consultant but are now concerned about the cost, I am taking clients for 2021 now with deferred payment until this crisis is over and we can assess the financial damage. Meetings will be virtual, but the work can begin. If you planned to do this on your own, you may want to consider the College Simplified series of videos to walk you through the college search and application process.

This is a good time for parents and their student to discuss the financial parameters of the college choice. Have a frank discussion with your student about what you can contribute to college and what limits to student debt you are putting on the student. This will enable a more targeted search. Remember that private colleges who really want your students (high GPA/Test Scores/Special Activities) may pay (merit aid = free money) to get him/her. This enforced home time is also a great time to use the Net Price Calculators on every college website. If financial aid is a critical component of your college choices, parents can take the online classes offered by The College Solution for solid information about college costs.

High School Seniors:

I feel for you! You are missing Prom and a graduation ceremony and other senior activities, but you are alive and healthy and have a long life ahead of you! You may not be able to make the final visit to your top two or three colleges, but you have already done a good job of researching the colleges on your list.

Try to speak with students who are at the colleges you are considering and ask about their experience there. If you can find someone from your high school or neighborhood, that’s great. Definitely speak to someone in the major which you are considering. Talk about professors they like and those to avoid. Ask about advising and career planning. Discuss social life on campus and support availability.

These colleges have changed the decision date to June 1 and the list is growing. Keep track of your colleges, but if you are sure about your choice, don’t delay sending in your deposit.

FOR All:
Breathe! It will all work out as it should, and you will be fine. As someone who has lived through many national and international crises, I can assure you that the sun will come out and life will go on. It may be altered, but the new normal may be better than the old. Time will tell!

Dr. Charlotte Klaar is Director of Klaar College Consulting LLC and a trained facilitator for the Parenting with Love and Logic program. She has successfully counseled college-bound students for more than 26 years both in-person and virtually. For more information: Call 803-487-9777 or visit www.cklaar.com

Why you should stick to an early decision agreement

If you’ve been accepted by a college through its Early Decision (ED) plan you may consider yourself fortunate, as you should.  You’ve applied to a school that’s at or near the top of your target list because the likelihood of acceptance for ED applicants is higher than the overall rate Early decisionfor the college. You’ve been admitted before most of your fellow students have even submitted applications. You can rest easier than your classmates and enjoy the rest of your senior year without the stress of admissions hanging over your head!

And yet, some students who have been accepted through an ED plan want to renege on their agreement later because events have transpired that cause them to regret their commitment. At that point they want to know if their ED agreement is binding and if they can disregard it without consequences.

Consider the Early Decision agreement you’ve signed

The answer isn’t simple. You, your guidance counselor, and your parents signed an agreement that stipulates that you understand that you’re committing to attend the institution if admitted. So, yes, it’s binding. But an ED agreement isn’t a contract that, if breached, can subject you to civil liability.

Consider the agreement that you’re asked to sign. A majority of the colleges that offer ED options do so under the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), which guides the institutional treatment of students. Section II of the NACAC document, titled “The Responsible Practice of College Admission”, includes this definition:

Restrictive early application plansEarly Decision (ED): Students commit to a first choice college and, if admitted, agree to enroll and withdraw their other college applications. This is the only application plan where students are required to accept a college’s offer of admission and submit a deposit prior to May 1.”

When you submit an ED application, what you’re agreeing to do is clear. While pursuing admission under an ED plan, students may apply to other institutions under an Early Action (EA) plan, but they may submit only one ED application. If an ED applicant is not admitted but is deferred to the Regular Decisions (RD) cycle, they’re immediately released from the ED agreement and are free to accept any other colleges’ offer of admission.

There are changes in a student’s circumstances that will induce a college to release him or her from their ED commitment. Before we review these circumstances, you should understand what may happen if you  simply ignore an ED agreement after having been admitted.

What can happen if you ignore an Early Decision agreement

You may wonder why a college administration even cares if you break your ED agreement, given that many of them admit only a small percentage of applicants. They can readily fill your slot with another well-qualified applicant. Administrators care because they use ED as a tool to improve the quality of their freshmen classes and raise their yield rate. Yield rate is the percentage of applicants who are offered admission, accept it, and go on to attend the college. It is an important variable in a college’s planning, and colleges strive to keep it high. If applicants admitted under an ED plan can renege with impunity, the purpose of an ED plan is defeated and its value to the institution is nullified.

At the same time, colleges are reluctant to compel students to attend their school if they don’t want to be there. So the college whose ED acceptance you turn down isn’t going to come after you with bloodhounds and a posse. “In some ways, early decision is a gentleman’s agreement”, according to Dave Tobias, vice president of enrollment for Ursinus College in Pennsylvania.

Backing out of an Early Decision raises questions about the student’s ethics

Most importantly, when a student backs out of ED agreement without cause, it raises questions about the student’s ethics that could impact decisions elsewhere. Some guidance counselors and colleges take steps to discourage reneging on ED agreements. For example:

  • If an admissions office finds out that a student has applied to their institution and another via ED, they’ll contact the other school. The student risks being denied consideration by both schools.
  • A cooperative ED plan is operated by five Ivy League schools: Brown, Penn, Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth. If an ED applicant is admitted to one of them, they must honor Early decisions at Ivy league schoolstheir agreement or be ineligible for admission to any of the others. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton share a similar plan.
  • Many guidance counselors place a hold on sending transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other admissions materials on behalf of students who have applied via ED until the decision is known. This step is taken because a guidance counselor’s credibility with admissions officials is at stake.
  • A group of 30 liberal arts colleges share lists of students admitted to each of them via ED so that the others don’t unwittingly admit them. They also share the names of students who were admitted via ED but were released from their commitments.
  • Admissions officials sometimes discover from a guidance counselor that a student has submitted two or more ED applications. Counselors will warn students ahead of time of the impropriety of submitting multiple ED applications and, if the student persists, will contact the affected colleges, both of which will terminate consideration of the applicant.

Legitimate reasons for backing out of an Early Decision

As noted above, there are a number of legitimate reasons why a college will release an applicant from an ED commitment without any negative repercussions. Below are a few common examples:

  • Necessary financial aid from the college didn’t develop as originally planned,
  • A parent or other family member has died or fallen ill and enrollment at a college is no longer feasible or desirable,
  • A family business or a parent’s career has suffered a setback, and,
  • The student has suffered a serious health issue.

An ED agreement is a serious undertaking, often among the first formal commitments you’ll make in your lifetime. You should make a good faith effort to stick to it.  Klaar College Consulting can help you understand the commitment you’re making. More importantly, i your decision will be part of a sound admissions strategy that we co-develop with you to help ensure  the success of your college admissions campaign.