Getting Schooled During the Crisis

Photo: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

As we navigate this unprecedented time, it can be difficult to know how to proceed with the college process. This is a critical time for students of all grade levels, whether they are in the process of selecting the right university to attend, preparing for upcoming standardized tests, or looking to make the most of remote online learning. While worries and concerns circulate, it is important to remain focused on, and prepared for, the crucial decisions and learning opportunities that lie ahead.

As college campuses close down nationwide and go virtual, what does this mean for prospective students? Graduating seniors may have to select a college without that second visit, or possibly, without ever having set foot on campus. Juniors may have to start narrowing application lists through remote campus experiences and information sessions. While in-person, on-campus visits may no longer be possible over the coming months, it is important that students still seek out the information most crucial to their decision-making processes, such as school and class size, internship opportunities, or social life through alternate platforms.

In response to these rapid developments, many colleges are actively offering a variety of online options for students to access admission information and communicate relevant questions or concerns. Many university websites offer virtual campus tours, allowing students to “walk” through the main areas of campus to gain a sense of the size, layout, and facilities each university has to offer.

Several admissions offices are also streaming live or pre-recorded information sessions and open houses, often specific to key topics such as on-campus living, academic programs, financial aid, and student activities. These can offer juniors and seniors a more in-depth look into the student experience at a particular university, helping students hone in on which schools embody the desired elements of their “right fit“ college in order to narrow college application or decision lists. Though your student may not be able to physically interact with their top schools, it is vital that they maintain communication and interact with admissions offices to both continue to demonstrate interest if awaiting an admission or waitlist decision, and to gain important insights as they approach decision time.

Middle and high school students may also be feeling overwhelmed by the rapid shifts and potential disruptions caused by the switch to online learning. By embracing an at-home study schedule similar to your student’s typical school-day routine, and relying more heavily on online learning and review resources such as CrashCourse, Khan Academy, and Quizlet, students can continue to succeed within this new remote-learning landscape.

For more experiential learning experiences, students can search for possible digital volunteer opportunities or digital internships to help bolster their resumes and build on existing interests.

Those preparing for AP exams and standardized tests like the SAT and ACT may feel additionally discouraged by the changes and cancellations occurring, seemingly halting months of preparation and learning. While these disruptions are frustrating, students can use this time to maintain their progress, utilizing online tools like College Board’s free online AP review sessions, or Khan Academy’s official SAT practice lessons and questions to focus in on areas of underperformance and enhance their comprehension. Including time for relevant, exam-specific study sessions and fully incorporating available online tools and resources into your student’s at-home learning schedule and routine can ensure that progress made throughout the school year is not lost, but possibly even built upon.

For more information on how to effectively navigate online learning, check out our previous blog post, “Prepare for Online Learning during the Coronavirus Outbreak: Three Tips to Navigate.”


  1. Tony Di Giacomo, Ph.D. is an educator and founder of Novella Prep. He has twenty years of experience working in admissions, development, teaching, and research at various universities. You can reach him at

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About the Author: Tony Di Giacomo, Ph.D.