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How to Survive the Pandemic School Year

As the pandemic summer nears its end, we are now headed for a pandemic school year. What will the new school year look like? There are projections, and school officials are working hard to make it work, but the truth is no one knows exactly what to expect.

Then, how should we prepare our kids?

Let’s first look at where they are now. This summer, our kids have been on the pandemic slide. It’s a longer, deeper summer slide that started in March instead of June. According to a statistical forecast by NWEA, this fall our kids will enter the school year with 30% loss in Reading and 50% loss in Math. Normally, the summer slide accounts for about 20% loss.

Though the pandemic slide is more significant in younger students, it has also put our older students behind schedule, especially seniors. About half of my seniors were not able to finish testing by the end of junior year, as I typically advise. They now had to choose colleges based on their future “projected” SAT or ACT scores, which complicated the college search process. In addition, precious time that should have been devoted to college applications and essays this summer was reallocated to prepping for standardized tests and even finding last minute activities to replace canceled summer internships. In the fall, many will have to juggle applications and academics while having to navigate through the uncharted territory of pandemic-adjusted school life. My heart goes out to all seniors this fall, as they will have it harder than any other seniors in the past.

I sincerely hope that colleges will have more empathy towards this Class of 2021 seniors. Though many of them are loosening up the application requirements, the move is often just a lure. I am having to constantly remind my students that lowered application standards does not mean lowered admission standards. Those who meet the bare minimum requirement to apply, unless they have personal extenuating circumstances, will not be favored over others who go above and beyond to prove themselves.

So here are some helpful tips for seniors to survive through the Fall semester:

Do as much as you can now during what’s left of the summer. In particular, don’t put off your college application essays till school starts. You simply won’t have the mental space and time to produce thoughtful, compelling essays. Also, improve those SAT and ACT scores. It will significantly increase your college admission chance and merit scholarships. Additionally, contact your recommendation writers now to give them ample time and not add to their (and your) stress. Finally, apply to your first choice college early for best admission results.

Incoming freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, I encourage you to take a moment to envision your upcoming school year, and plan it out. When will you take the SAT or ACT? When should you start studying for them? Where and how can you volunteer? Are you worried about a challenging subject you will take? What can you do now to prepare for it? Will you continue your involvement in group activities this year? How will it work with social distancing? Should you look for an alternate activity?

“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” can’t be any more applicable now, as we brace ourselves for the upcoming school year. We are all in it together, and we will get through this. There will be an end. Till then, a moment to think everything through and plan ahead as much as you can will help the new school year go a little bit smoother.

B2A is currently registering for summer SAT/ACT intensive prep courses, which will be conducted online (until it is safe to hold classes in person)! Our test prep classes include weekly lessons, practice problems, and proctored diagnostic tests. And teachers will be present and teaching throughout the class time! Check out our summer schedule and set up a free consultation to see which programs and SAT/ACT dates are right for you!


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