WARREN, Mich. - During a non-pandemic fall semester, De La Salle Collegiate counselor Jon Hickey would be carefully scheduling in-person visits from college admissions representatives.
But now, all fall college recruiters will meet with De La Salle students virtually, as COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols have upended the traditional visits.
“We don’t really have the space to pull them all together,” Hickey said, noting social distancing requirements.
Hickey is scheduling the virtual college visits during students’ lunchtimes. He anticipates 30-40 colleges and universities will participate.
“Students can log in from their devices, and attend the virtual visit, using headphones at their desks,” Hickey said. “They can ask questions using the chat option on Zoom, and other virtual platforms. It’s ideal for our current situation.”
Hickey says that all De La Salle students are welcome to attend the calls.
“I don’t think it’s ever too early to begin thinking about college,” he said. “I encourage students to attend as many as they can.”
Although colleges have suspended student visits, Hickey believes the virtual visits have value.
“These virtual visits can still be a great way to meet the college reps,” he said. “Since this is a first for us, nobody really knows for sure how it will go, but I imagine it is just as informative as the in-person visits. And just about all schools have a virtual tour that students can view.”
Hickey also encourages seniors to submit their college applications as soon as possible.
“I have always believed November 1 is a good date to shoot for,” he said.
COVID-19 has also upended standardized testing schedules for the ACT and SAT, with all spring and summer testing canceled, and many sites still not offering the tests.
Hickey said a majority of universities are going test-optional for this academic year.
“This ensures that students who were unable to schedule SAT or ACT tests during the COVID shutdown won’t be at a disadvantage during the admissions process,” he said.
Hickey notes the Federal Student Aid Scholarship Application opens on October 1 and encourages all seniors and their parents to visit the website.
When schools closed in March, and the Financial Aid Information Night was canceled, Hickey created a 30-minute video for parents who can view the presentation on the counseling webpage.
Hickey also says counselors regularly send emails to students with scholarship information.
“If they get something from our department, it’s important information,” he said. “Mr. Albani does a great job of sending this information, and promoting scholarship search sites.”
The counselors also send parents a monthly newsletter and encourage parents to contact them with any questions.