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Countdown to college: What about the Class of 2021?

By Lee Shulman Bierer, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Education News

It seems like all the focus has been on the high school seniors - no prom, no graduation and unsettling news for the fall at colleges. These are all very real concerns and shouldn't be minimized. However, high school juniors - soon to be rising seniors - have a completely different set of challenges.

Juniors lost the better part of their second semester. In addition to navigating AP U.S. History online, juniors unwillingly lost most of their opportunities to set themselves apart, as they were quarantined at home. For many, that meant no sports, no debate tournaments, no fundraisers, no issues of the student newspaper, no student government, no jobs and no community service. It also meant no standardized testing. One shred of good news is that it leveled the playing field - nobody else had any opportunities to do those things either.

But junior year is pivotal for many students. It's often when they get to demonstrate leadership training and skills, when they perform their best at competitions and when they typically visit colleges. Watching a video may work well for some students, but getting the "vibe" of being on a college campus - seeing the swirl of activity between classes or eating in a dining hall - simply can't be done virtually.

So what's a junior to do?

1. Do your best to maintain your extracurricular activities.

A lot of clubs and sports are continuing to meet virtually. If you play an instrument, you can still practice. You could even contact an assisted living facility and see if you can do a Zoom performance for the residents. It's all more challenging, but please don't give up and play video games for the next several months. Colleges will be flexible in how they are looking at the resumes of juniors, but the students who rise to the occasion and create something or continue to follow their passion will be more interesting applicants.


2. Stay updated on what's happening with the SAT and ACT.

While testing dates for March, April and May were canceled for the SAT and ACT, the summer administrations of both tests have not yet been canceled. I'd recommend registering for these dates quickly. There is a tremendous pent-up demand, and preference will be given to juniors.

To stay up to date with the changing plans for the SAT and the ACT, please refer to the following links:

SAT: https://pages.collegeboard.org/collegeboard-covid-19-updates


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