COVID has me worried about my teen’s college dreams.

High School and Covid
High school mom and college planner Paige shares her concerns for kids in the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Paige Chapman-Layand

I don’t know about you, but as the mom of a high school student–let’s just say that since March–the last few minutes before I drift off to sleep each night are not exactly peaceful. 

Instead, I seem to catalog my worries as they pile up–a never ending list that scrolls by:

Will my girl ever get back to the sport she loves?

Is her fencing career over before it officially began?

Will she ever get to see her friends again?

How can I make my mom stay home? 

Is the dishwasher on its last legs? Maybe I should try a new rinse aid?

Should we brush the dog’s teeth more often?

Is buying tickets for Thanksgiving with the family in Florida ridiculous?

And, the one that seems to consume most of my mental energy:

Will my kid ever get back to school?

When I think about my concerns, I know we are luckier than most.  My husband and I can work from home. My mom–when I nag her–is at home next door.  My daughter, Astrid, did well with e-classes. Most of the athletes in her sport are in the same sinking boat, so she won’t necessarily be behind her competitors. 

Still, I know the fall is going to look very different.  

Despite the fact that my Division 1 athlete daughter’s arts school is amazing, I know that as the only athlete in her school, she will need some extra support when it comes to incorporating her sport into her college plan.

And we’re lucky–the guidance counselors at her school are SO amazing. They care so much and go above and beyond for their students. But I feel for them. Every high school guidance counselor out there is going to be overwhelmed trying to meet all the individual needs of the Class of ’21 as they navigate the upcoming application season. 

Most high schools just couldn’t do as much college prep with the Class of ‘21 during the spring of their junior years as they typically would if not for COVID-19. So when school starts in the fall, they’ll have to play catch up…as fast as they can.

And honestly, I don’t know how they’re going to do that.  More and more every day we’re seeing the concept of a blended model of returning to school in the fall with some districts opting for high schoolers not returning at all and continuing to work virtually. 

So really, how can we play catch up when we’re already behind the 8-ball and less chance for interaction?  The answer is we can’t.  It’s turning what will already be a chaotic time for everyone, and throwing gasoline on the fire. 

Guidance counselors are amazing.  What they have to do every day–attending to students needs at every level for every age group, with so few of them at the helm (there’s close to a 500 to 1 ratio of students to guidance counselors in the state of Ohio)–makes them superheroes. But how can we expect them to be available to answer all of the questions and do all of the work necessary for our rising seniors to get them off to college in the right way? 

The answer is we can’t, and we shouldn’t. 

This might be the hardest school year ever to get kick-started, for every family at every age group. But the college application process and timelines currently aren’t changing.  Application deadlines for universities haven’t been moved. And while we’ve seen some schools leaning away from the ACT/SAT, there still is a completed application… essay work… letters of recommendation… and beyond to still have fully prepared and not to mention the proper schools selected for your kid. 

And for the Class of ‘22… the outlook isn’t any better. Too many high schools will have too few resources to extend to the underclassmen with the attempt to get the seniors back on track.  And all of this assumes that we’ll actually be back to class come September. Extended virtual learning makes it that much harder to meet the needs of all the students, whether academic, or personal.  

As some high schools plan for an entire semester at home for everyone… and some consider a mix of virtual and in-person classes… no matter how hard they try, high school guidance counselors will have fewer opportunities to interact with your student.

So where do we turn?  This is hard enough doing this in any given year, nonetheless this one when access to our typical support structures will be so heavily limited.

It’s why I’m glad we do what we do at College Liftoff.  We can support your child’s entire college planning needs, from top to to bottom, whether or not they have access to a school counselor.  We can do everything you need, right here.

And we support the work your child’s school guidance counselor is able to do with them, in any capacity–enhancing your child’s college options and results. Along with making sure we’re getting the necessary things we need this fall from them such as transcript requests, letters of recommendation, etc.

We’ve worked virtually with clients all over the country since the beginning, and now, due to COVID-19, with our local clients as well.

We are with your family every step of the way.  From career development to selecting a major… all the way to finding your child’s best fitting college… and then through all the phases of the application process. We support the important work your child’s school is already doing. 

In a perfect world, every student would have all the time they need with a guidance counselor to plan for a successful future. On any given year that’s tough to accomplish. This year will be basically impossible. Right now, with so much up in the air, let us help you.  

From applications to Common App essays… to finding scholarships and writing supplemental essays… College Liftoff is here to help you, with timely information about changes due to COVID-19.

Let us shrink your worry list so you can get some sleep.  

Think about whether or not it’s time to clean the gutters or schedule eye exams.  As for your rising juniors and seniors?  We’ve got them covered.