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  • Mary Frances Massey

Now Is the Time to Start Thinking About College

The class of 2019 shows off their college pride on College Colors Day. Photo by Kelley Cuneo.

During this time of the year, Athens Academy students start thinking about the college process as they watch the seniors decide where they will continue their education. With students currently spending time at home taking online classes, they are left wondering what they can do to prepare for the college process and how COVID-19 will impact their plans.

One senior who is wrapping up her college process is Charlotte Luke. Many believe that senior year is full of “lasts”—the last football game, the last morning meeting, etc.—but Luke is having a different experience.

“Actually, my senior year has been full of firsts: I’m running track for the first time, I’ve volunteered at new places, I’ve hung out with people for the first time,” Luke said.

Students often get overwhelmed by the college process and end up procrastinating or perhaps don’t take their safety school applications seriously. These are some common mistakes Dr. Marty Rogers sees students make. Rogers has been a college counselor at Athens Academy for three years, and before that he was an academic advisor at the University of Georgia Honors Program for about 15 years.

“It’s easy to get caught up in your schoolwork or to think the applications are a lot of work in a way that they are not and keep putting them off. It’s hard for people to help you at the last minute. If you need help with something, if it’s a technical thing that goes wrong, you need a document, or you need a letter of recommendation from a teacher, those things are hard to get quickly,” Rogers said.

With the abundant amount of time on students’ hands, this is a great opportunity to prevent procrastination. Rather than let the college process be overwhelming, students should get a head start.

“Before your junior year, make a list of colleges you want to tour and at least tentatively plan your visits,” Luke said. “Also, make a standardized testing plan that includes how you will study, when you will take the SAT/ACT, and when you will retake them if necessary. The summer before your senior year, make a document/spreadsheet that lists every deadline, required material, and essay prompt for each college to which you will apply.”

There are lots of uncertainties on how COVID-19 will change the college process and ultimately how students will prepare. ACAD college counselors are monitoring the evolving situation and staying informed about college admissions offices’ responses to school closures.

“I think (admissions officers are) going to be looking for different things in their admissions. They’re going to see some weird ups and downs on grades and some standardized tests. And so I think they’re going to look deeper into students’ written responses to see how well they might fare on a college campus,” Rogers said.

Rogers recommends that students take advantage of this time. Students should try to do anything that shows they are staying engaged in the community and in their coursework, or that they are using this time as an opportunity rather than a timeout. This is a new way for students to engage with the college process, and now they have the time to focus.

Finally, Rogers said, “I would love to hear from any Athens Academy students who have questions about preparing for college and applying to college.”