Get Ready for Tomorrow’s ACT

A few thoughts if you’re scheduled to take tomorrow’s ACT.

To minimize your stress tomorrow morning, it’s a great idea to get organized ahead of time. The last thing you need on test morning is a desperate scramble. These are some of the things you can do tonight to get your big day off to a great start:

First, check with your parents to make sure they know when and where you’re scheduled to take the test, and arrange how you’ll get to the test center. Next, gather and pack all the things you’ll need to take with you. Some of the things on this check list are “must-have” items, while others are optional.

REQUIRED: Don’t forget any of the following items or it will be a long ride home!

  • An approved calculator
  • Sharpened #2 pencils
  • An acceptable form of photo ID
  • Your admission or standby ticket

SUGGESTED:

  • Water
  • Snack
  • Sweater
  • Back-up calculator
  • Extra batteries for your calculator
  • Watch (to keep track of time)

Finally, given how COVID-19 has disrupted the testing process, we suggest that you confirm the status of your test registration and stay current on any changes by visiting ACT Testing Amid COVID-19.

 

Set your alarm, get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy, satisfying breakfast.

Good luck!

 

 

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What Works For You?

Your college application process is going to keep you very busy! There’s  a lot to keep track of this fall and while different from what you were anticipating, you’ll be researching schools, working on your applications and writing essays, applying for financial aid and scholarships, scheduling virtual interviews, if available, and also preparing and registering for standardized tests, if you decide to take them. It’s going to be so important to stay on top of changes in admissions requirements due to the pandemic. We suggest you get organized now to stay on top of things. Organization will be the best tool to help you submit successful applications and present your best self to Admissions.

Set up an organizing system that works for you:

  • Get started by using checklists and charts to keep track of all the different deadlines. You don’t want to miss out on any opportunities by losing track of due dates for test registration, applications, special programs and scholarships.
  • Use worksheets to gather the user names and passwords and other essential information such as your social security number and the student ID numbers that each school assigns. You will be asked to provide this information repeatedly throughout the process.  Also, jot down the SAT and ACT codes for your high school that the testing services will request as well as the contact information for your guidance counselor, so you won’t have to look this info up again and again.
  • Open a new email account to use exclusively for your search and applications. This will help you to respond quickly to any outreach.
  • Get into the habit of saving your application work, as well as important school assignments and papers by using a back-up device, such as a USB or online storage.

Once you begin your applications you’ll want to be prepared and ready for the barrage of requirements and deadlines. Get organized from the start and you’ll be more in control and avoid unnecessary mistakes and stress.

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Finding Your Way

Welcome back to the new school year!  While everything is different, you should continue with your college search and application process. Colleges are adapting to the changes caused by the pandemic on an ongoing basis, so be sure to stay current by checking in regularly with individual school websites, College Board and ACT’s sites as well as other college admissions related resources.

Here are a few things to focus on for this fall semester:

  • Reach out to  your guidance or college counselor. In order to navigate your college admissions process in this time of uncertainty, seek out your guidance counselor for help. Make an appointment and have ready a list of questions, concerns and ideas to discuss.
  • Decide whether you are going to take standardized tests.  Although there are many schools now waiving the standardized test requirement, you may still consider submitting test scores if you feel they will enhance your application.  Talk to your parents and guidance counselor to formulate your plan.
  • Continue with your college search.  Although most schools are currently not offering campus visits, college websites feature virtual tours offering an excellent way to view the campus and it’s facilities and are also holding online information sessions. Schedule calls with admissions officers and reach out to students you know and talk to them about their experiences.
  • Focus on your schoolwork. With so many schools eliminating the test requirement, your grades and the rigor of your courses will play a greater role in demonstrating your academic qualifications for any given college.
  • Work on your essays and applications if you’re a senior. If you feel it’s important to discuss how Covid -19 has impacted you, both personally and academically, the Common App is offering a space to do so on your application.
  • Request teacher recommendations. As a senior, if you have not already done so, now is the time to reach out to two recommenders for your applications.

Stay open minded and be flexible in your approach to your college search and application process and remember that high school students across the nation are facing similar challenges.

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Congratulations Graduates

This 2020 graduation season is unlike any that has come before. Graduates, you may find yourselves holding a mask and maybe a protest sign along with  your diploma.  You are all unique and accomplished in so many different ways and we want to celebrate you and congratulate all on your high school graduation.

So many noteworthy virtual commencement addresses were given. We share a few with you here:

 

“It’s OK to not be OK right now.” Alicia Keys

“Every thought in your mind is powerful. Every word you speak is powerful. Every action you take has consequences for yourself and your community.” Beyonce

“In an uncertain world, time tested values like honesty and integrity, empathy and compassion— that’s the only real currency in life.”  Michelle Obama

“You have gained your education. Now it’s time you go out and use it for the betterment of the world.” Malala Yousafzai

“America changed, and has always changed, because young people dared to hope.” President Barak Obama

 

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SAT Drops At Home Test

College Board is postponing plans to offer an at home digital version of the SAT.  AP exams, despite initial problems in May, will be offered digitally in June. ACT, as of now, is still planning to offer a digital remote option in the fall.

We’ll continue to keep you updated as the standardized testing situation continues to evolve.

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Colleges Still Accepting Applications

If you have not yet completed your application process, are not happy with your outcome or if you are reconsidering your options, given changed circumstances due to the pandemic, check out National Association of College Admissions Counseling’s College Openings Update. This list provides a directory of over 400 colleges and universities with openings, financial aid and housing still available to qualified first year and transfer students for the fall 2020 semester.

Make use of the Update to search for schools through the use of various filters, including state and country. Both public and private universities are included on the list. This is an excellent resource and will continue to be revised as colleges and universities finalize their admission numbers for 2020/21.

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Thoughts For Rising Juniors

The college admissions process is undergoing significant changes amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The most significant change in the application evaluation process is the elimination of the standardized test score requirement. Following the announcement by many small private colleges, the University of California, the largest public university system in the country, joined the growing list of schools phasing out the SAT and ACT requirements. As this is an evolving situation and schools are continuing to respond to the current environment, make sure you are staying in touch with news of schools adding their name to this list.

Some students may want to take the exams, as they are still required by highly competitive schools and mat be used to award scholarships, determine course placement and evaluate out-of-state students.

With the more widespread elimination of test scores for admissions assessments, how are you going to differentiate yourself as a candidate? Criteria for admissions include your academic performance, rigor of coursework, extracurricular involvement and recommendations. The good news is you have plenty of time to focus on your school work and pursue activities that are meaningful to you.

During this unusual time find ways to get engaged and involve yourself in something that matters to you. Summer is also a good time to assess and plan ahead. Do a bit of research on schools to understand testing requirements and admissions criteria. Although this is a very early look, it’s a good way to become familiar with your options going forward. There are many online tools available to help you begin your college search process. Spend time searching college websites, take virtual tours and read what students have to say about their school. When school begins in the fall, plan to review your findings with your guidance counselor.

 

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Oprah’s Commencement Address

As we all know, this is an unusual graduation season. Students and their families are trying to find ways to celebrate this milestone.  Many notable speakers celebrated this year’s graduates in virtual online addresses  We’d like to share Oprah Winfrey’s words from Friday, May 15th with you here.

“Hello everyone. I know you may not feel like it, but you are indeed the chosen class for such a time as this, the class of 2020. You’re also a united class, the pandemic class, that has the entire world striving to graduate with you. Of course this is not the graduation ceremony you envisioned. You’ve been dreaming about that walk across the stage, your family and friends cheering you on: ‘Whoop, whoop!’ The caps flung joyously in the air.

But even though there might not be pomp because of our circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose and vision, passion and energy and hope. Your graduation ceremony is taking place with so many luminaries celebrating you on the world’s Facebook stage, and I’m just honored to join them and salute you.

You know, the word ‘graduate’ comes from the Latin ‘gradus,’ which means, ‘a step toward something.’ And in the early fifteenth century, ‘graduation’ was a term used in alchemy to mean ‘a tempering or refining.’ Every one of us is now being called to graduate, to step toward something even though we don’t know what. Every one of us is likewise now being called to temper the parts of ourselves that must fall away, to refine who we are, how we define success, and what is genuinely meaningful. And you, the real graduates on this day, you will lead us.

I wish I could tell you I know the path forward. I don’t. There is so much uncertainty. In truth, there always has been. What I do know is that the same guts and imagination that got you to this moment, all those things are the very things that are going to sustain you through whatever is coming. It’s vital that you learn and we all learn to be at peace with the discomfort of stepping into the unknown. It’s really OK to not have all the answers. The answers will come for sure if you can accept not knowing long enough to get still, and stay still long enough for new thoughts to take root in your more quiet, deeper, truer self. The noise of the world drowns out the sound of you. You have to get still to listen.

So can you use this disorder that COVID-19 has wrought? Can you treat it as an uninvited guest that’s come into our midst to reorder our way of being? Can you, the class of 2020, show us not how to put the pieces back together again, but how to create a new and more evolved normal? A world more just, kind, beautiful, tender, luminous, creative, whole? We need you to do this, because the pandemic has illuminated the vast systemic inequities that have defined life for too many for too long. For poor communities without adequate access to healthcare, inequality is a preexisting condition. For immigrant communities forced to hide in the shadows, inequality is a preexisting condition. For incarcerated people with no ability to social distance, inequality is a preexisting condition. For every person burdened by bias and bigotry, for every black man and woman living in their American skin, fearful to even go for a jog, inequality is a preexisting condition.

You have the power to stand for, to fight for and vote for healthier conditions that will create a healthier society. This moment is your invitation to use your education to begin to heal our afflictions by applying the best of what you’ve learned in your head and felt in your heart. This moment has shown us what Dr. King tried to tell us decades ago. He understood that we ‘are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.’ That’s what he said. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. If humanity is a global body, every soul is a cell in that body. And we are being challenged as never before to keep the global body healthy by keeping ourselves healthy in mind, in body, and spirit.

As all the traditions affirm, the deepest self-care is at once caring for the human family and we see this so clearly with essential workers. Look who turns out to be essential: teachers, your teachers, healthcare workers, of course. The people stocking grocery shelves, the cashiers, the truck drivers, food providers, those who are caring for your grandparents, those who clean the places where we work and shop and carry out our daily lives. We are all here because they, at great and profound risk, are still providing their essential service. What will your essential service be? What really matters to you?

The fact that you’re alive means you’ve been given a reprieve to think deeply about that question. How will you use what matters in service to yourself, your community and the world? For me, it’s always been talking and sharing stories. For you? Well that’s for you to discover. And my hope is that you will harness your education, your creativity, and your valor, your voice, your vote, reflecting on all that you’ve witnessed and hungered for, all that you know to be true and use it to create more equity, more justice and more joy in the world. To be the class that commenced a new way forward, the class of 2020: Bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo.”

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AP Exam Schedule

AP test takers, be sure to check College Board’s revised AP exam schedule to confirm your test times and instructions. As all students worldwide will be taking tests at the same time, look for your time zone in the table to double check your exam start time.

There have been reports of students having difficulties submitting their exams before time ran out. Makeup test dates have also been posted and should be consulted for those who want to retake their exam.

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Class of 2021: Your Application Process

Colleges and universities are making ongoing changes to their admissions requirements in response to the corona virus pandemic. Juniors, your college process is going to look significantly different than you had anticipated.

Testing requirements and schedules have and continue to change. Dozens of schools have announced they will be test optional for the Class of 2021. In addition, College Board and ACT have cancelled test dates and added new ones. For now, College Board has added a September 26 test in addition to the previously scheduled tests on August 29, October 3, November 7, and December 5. Students can get early access to register for August, September, and October if they’re already registered for June and/or are in the high school class of 2021 and don’t have SAT scores.

ACT has announced that it will offer June 13 and July 18 as scheduled, and will provide make-up tests on June 20 and July 25. Fall test dates will be offered as scheduled on September 12, October 24 and December 12.

In addition, both services may offer remote digital testing. Be sure to check both testing websites frequently for changes to their schedules.

AP exams will be offered online on your computer, tablet or smartphone. If you prefer to hand write your responses, you will be allowed do so if submitted with a photo. Exam dates and portfolio due dates have changed— be sure you have the most up to date schedules.

Your school may have announced changes in their grading system for this semester. Pass/fail evaluations should not impact your GPA. If you were hoping this semester was going to raise your GPA, this is a good talking point for your applications. If your school is opting to issue A’s to all students, colleges and universities will be made aware, so, in the end any impact this might have on your GPA may be discounted.

Given the changes to these objective components of your future applications, schools will be looking even harder at your overall profile. How will you demonstrate who you are? Open the Common App to sign up, if you haven’t already done so, and review the essay prompts. Start thinking about what you’d like to write about. The Activities Section is where you can highlight your interests and extracurricular involvement. Is there anything else  you’ll want to add to this part of your application?

As this crisis evolves, both high schools and colleges will continue to respond. Stay in touch with your guidance counselor to understand the impact these changes will have on your college application process. Feel confident that you will still have the opportunity to present your best self when it comes to apply.

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