Though their door is no longer open and the room sits in uninhabited darkness, the college counseling office is working as hard as any year to help navigate students through the college admissions process.
Although it would have been possible for the department to come into school, it makes more sense for them to remain home as most students are without any free periods during the day and parents are unable to enter campus buildings. Therefore, a bulk of the workday for Haverford’s college counselors actually occurs at night, when practices are over and students are finally available to meet.
As the year winds to an end and Sixth Formers have chosen where they are spending the next four years, the college counselors shift their focus to the current Fifth and Fourth Formers, the latter of which have just begun discussing colleges for the first time.
“We had a really great turnout for the Fourth Form parent discussion,” Senior Associate Director of College Counseling Ms. Karen Ley said. “One of the things we talked about was how much colleges have online for them. You can visit colleges from the comfort of your living room now, and I think many realized that’s a lot easier than what they might have done with their older kids.”
The pandemic has changed the way our college counselors are approaching admissions, and it has been part of their job to prepare the Fifth and Fourth Form for these adjustments. At the beginning of the school year, Sixth Formers participated for the first time, in essay writing lessons from a service called Prompt. The current Fifth Formers will begin those lessons much earlier, during the second week of June, as the college counseling office hopes to jumpstart essay writing over the summer, so students don’t feel overwhelmed when returning to school in the fall.
“I think parents have really appreciated that brotherhood component, seeing how you guys are really there for each other.”Senior Associate Director of College counseling Ms. Karen Ley
Another improvement gained during the pandemic was a directory of over 100 different Haverford alumni currency attending schools across the country. These college students are all willing to speak with current Haverford students to help them get a better understanding of what their school is like. With the inability to visit most campuses, having students to talk to who can compare their experience to Haverford will be very beneficial.
“I think parents have really appreciated that brotherhood component, seeing how you guys are really there for each other,” Ms. Ley said.
Even when things go back in person, much of the changes will become permanent. For example, meeting virtually will make it significantly easier for the college counselors to communicate more often with parents, as they don’t have to take time driving to school during the day, but can now meet from their home whenever.
This past year, Shipley was unable to hold their college fair, but have transitioned it to become fully virtual. Fifth Formers will have the ability to attend that event to explore more schools. The pandemic has forced schools to enhance their online resources and created many more opportunities for students to learn about what a school is like when classes are in session.
“I do think that their supplemental essays will be much richer this fall as far as the research students have,” said Ms. Ley.
Fourth Formers have just begun meeting with their respective counselors and the process for Fifth Formers is beginning to kick into high gear as they attend seminars hosted by the college counseling office to fill out the Common Application and get ready for the fall.