It’s been a hard year for everyone—but especially for school counselors who are doing the hard work of trying to keep students engaged and focused on their goals while coping with remote learning, the pressure of the changing college search, mental health setbacks, and more. Our counselor community shared with us some of the things they’ve been struggling with most in trying to do right by their students, and we’ve taken those responses and curated some blogs and resources to share with your students that will hopefully help everyone.
The college search process
The college search process has drastically altered for students, and they’re feeling the loss of all the fun aspects that they’ve been looking forward to. Here are some resources to help keep them on track toward their goals and motivated toward college.
“It has been challenging keeping up with the changes this year and communicating to students and parents to keep everyone informed.”
- Resources Students Need During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- The Impact of COVID-19 on the Class of 2021
- Top 10 Lessons From 2020 to Help Your College Search
- Lessons From Applying to College During a Pandemic
- COVID-19's Impact on Student Visas and Scholarships
“For me, the hardest obstacle to overcome has been finding ways to encourage and continue to engage in conversations with seniors about where they are in their application or decision process.”
- College Search Spreadsheet Template
- Your Quick Mid-Year Scholarship Search Checklist
- Top Tips for Dealing With College Search Stress
- 3 College Application Mistakes You’re Likely Making
- How to Make a Final College Decision During COVID-19
“One of the biggest hurdles this year was motivating students to envision their future, to look beyond online school toward their future and complete their applications without amplified procrastination.”
- Top 10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination
- How to Fight Procrastination and Find Your Motivation
- Counselor Q&A: How to Be Smart When Planning for College During the Pandemic
- A Deep Dive Into Procrastination and How to Stop It
“The other difficulty I’ve successfully conquered is getting all of my seniors to apply to for post-secondary education programs, employment, gap year programs, or military service. It took many gentle email reminders and Zoom meetings to encourage them that they can and should apply and then they have until May to make a decision about what suits them best for next fall.”
- Changing Plans Amid COVID-19
- All About Kaplan Test Prep’s Boost Year Program
- Your Goals, Your Life, Your Gap Year
- Unexpected Reasons to Take a Gap Year
“Without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve had to do this year is altering so many elements of what I do, incorporating different timing, criteria, and more to allow for the stress and anxiety that teens are feeling this year and the fact that they struggled to connect with colleges and this process through Zoom.”
- Connecting With Colleges During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- 3 Good Alternative Options for Canceled Campus Tours
- How Should I Prepare for a Virtual Admission Interview?
- What Do Prospective Students Want From Campus Tours?
“The hardest thing has been trying to advise students what is in their best interest given all the new test-optional policies for this year.”
- Debunking 4 SAT, ACT, and Remote Learning Myths
- The Future of the SAT and ACT During COVID-19
- Video: What Is Test-Blind College Admission All About?
- The 3 R’s of Overcoming Test Anxiety
- 4 Things to Know About Terminated SAT Subject Tests
- How to Decide Whether to Take the SAT or ACT This Year
Adjusting to online learning
Many students have been learning remotely for months now, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy or has gotten easier. Here’s some advice for students to get a little more comfortable with this unconventional format.
“Assisting students with adjusting to switching from in-person classes to online classes even though they’re on campus.”
- Video: Adjusting to Online Learning
- 6 Tips to Transition to Online Learning
- 4 Ways to Avoid Isolation as an Online Student
- How to Take Charge of Your Education in Online Classes
- How to Make Online Learning Work Better for You
- 5 Tips for Focusing and Note-Taking in Online Classes
“In particular, my special education students are suffering very much during this time of remote learning. They need a teacher or aide by them, helping them with their schoolwork. It is very frustrating for me.”
- Learning Disabilities in College: 7 Things to Know and Do
- What Questions Should I Ask the Student Disabilities Office?
- Understanding Learning Differences and What Services Offer
- Top College Search Tips for Students With Learning Differences
Your students’ mental health
Mental health for students has been at an all-time low with stress and anxiety at an all-time high. These resources offer advice for getting into a routine, coping with hard emotions, deescalating stress and anxiety, and more.
“One of the most difficult situations to overcome this year has been trying to help students with mental health needs in a virtual setting. We have been meeting with students in many ways, including phone calls, Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings, parent conferences, and home visits.”
- 7 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health by Managing Stress
- A General Guide to Mental Health Awareness for Students
- Mental Health: What It Is and How You Can Find Help
“Student depression and disengagement has been a big issue. They are on screens all day, and then to have to connect with me virtually seems like just one more chore. They are having a lot of trouble dreaming beyond their bedroom walls.”
“One of the hardest things this year is managing the anxiety of student and parents. Nobody likes uncertainty, and COVID-19 made this year the year of unknowns and speculation. A lot of counselors felt like they were also psychologists this year!”
- COVID-19: How to Cope With Anxiety
- Alleviating Stress and Anxiety: The Best Advice From Real Students
- How to Beat Back-to-School Anxiety
- 8 Healthy Stress Management Tips for Students
Getting students to engage
One thing that’s loud and clear is that students are struggling to stay engaged and checking out instead of connecting with you and striving for their goals. These blogs and articles will help them with their focus in school.
“My biggest challenge is keeping students engaged in their virtual learning platforms.”
- 6 Tips for Dealing With Distractions in Online Classes
- Video: 3 Tips to Avoid Senioritis
- How to Create an Effective Distance Learning Routine
“The hardest thing that I have had to work on this year is connecting with students. I do not have a caseload, so my interaction with students initiates in the virtual classroom. Students are not required to turn on their cameras, so I don't "see" anyone and I have no idea if they are there.”
Preparing for the first semester
While no counselor specifically requested this advice or expressed concern for what comes after the admission process, you can’t just send your students off unprepared for college life. Here’s some of our best pandemic advice for when students are on campus.
- What Life Is Really Like at a Big Public University
- Make the Most of Campus Services During the Pandemic
- How to Make the Most of Freshman Year in the Pandemic
- How to Make the Most of Your Education in College
- An Inside Look at Student Teaching and the Pandemic
- Pros and Cons of Graduate School During COVID-19
- COVID-19: Leaving College vs. Financial Obligations
- What Changes Could Be Coming for Your Student Loans?
We’re in this together
We know there’s nothing that can magically solve all the problems we’ve faced, but know that everyone is truly in this together, and CollegeXpress is here to do whatever we can to make working with your students through the college search process a little easier. We hope you’ll take these words of wisdom from a fellow counselor with you into your efforts this year:
“My parents, who sent 11 children to college, always modeled that there’s no such thing as a bad day as long as you learn from it. That said, is there such a thing as a bad year? When all is said and done, on a real plus-side, America's college-bound students who survived the trials and tribulations of being educated during the 2020 pandemic will most likely matriculate at the next level with a greater capacity for resilience than those during the past decade.”
The CollegeXpress Team wishes everyone a better year ahead! And if you have any questions or ideas to share with other counselors, be sure to connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.