Summum Bonum Newsletter: Hill Seniors Remain Undaunted as they Prepare for College in the Fall
The college admissions process went smoothly this past Fall, and the 119 members of the Class of 2020 were accepted into 189 colleges, with academic scholarship monies totaling $41.5 million. The college decision-making process has been more difficult, however, when the opportunity to attend live Accepted Students’ Days shifted to virtual experiences in mid- March, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Mrs. Kerry Sullivan ‘81, Hill’s Director of College Counseling, this unprecedented crisis has presented new questions and challenges.
Traditionally, by mid-April, almost all Hill Seniors would have committed to the college of their choice. This year, however, with many deposit deadlines at colleges extended to May 15th and June 1st, one-third of the class members are still narrowing their choices. Those who have committed are still venturing further away from home – to the University of Buffalo, Binghamton and Hamilton in New York, the University of Mississippi, Clemson in South Carolina, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Tampa. Others are staying within a five-hour radius – Catholic University in DC, Princeton and Seton Hall in New Jersey, Bucknell, Duquesne and Penn State in Pennsylvania, Fairfield, Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac in Connecticut, Vassar and Marist in New York, Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Providence and University of Rhode Island.
There are many unanswered questions and concerns. Students and their families are not clear about the status of the Fall semester and whether they will be able to attend all classes in person, or be offered a hybrid solution (in person—with socially distant small classes and larger online classes) or online classes only. Given the option of online only, some parents are questioning the cost of full tuition without the added amenities of studying on campus. And some students are wondering if they should consider deferring their admission to the spring and potentially begin at a local college in the Fall.
Although the students who have not committed are largely weighing the same factors that they did before — majors, location, financial aid and scholarship offerings —there seems to be added uncertainty. COVID-19 is weighing on the minds of parents, especially considering the closeness of dormitory living, and dining settings. As Mrs. Sullivan continues to speak daily to admissions officers to advocate on behalf of the Seniors and their parents, she is also holding virtual meetings on Zoom with the 141 members of the Junior class as they prepare their college portfolio.
College visits generally dominate the Juniors’ summer, however, college tours are not being offered. Some colleges are trying to address this situation with a new way of recruiting students. The “virtual tour” has replaced the traditional campus visits, as well as “Zoom interviews.” Students can take a virtual tour of the campus, connect with faculty, and live a day in the life of a student on-line. Traditionally, colleges offered a plethora of summer programs for Juniors who wanted to experience life on campus and get a “head start” on the college experience. This year that has changed and summer programs have all been cancelled. The College Board has also cancelled Spring and June administrations of the SAT and the ACT has shifted exam dates as well. As a result, some of the most competitive colleges in the nation have announced they will be test optional for next year’s admissions cycle.
Although there is an added element of uncertainty, Hill Seniors are poised and prepared for the challenges ahead.