How To Stay on Top of College Plans

Stressed About College

‘As we fully enter the new year, COVID-19 continues to influence many important life events. Balancing work and social life with quarantining takes up a lot of mental space for the average family these days. However, there is another concern weighing on the minds of many. Some of the most impactful decisions families and young people must make pertain to schooling. 

The coronavirus has caused an upheaval in the routines related to attending high school, preparing for college, and the career choices adolescents make as they begin to head out into adulthood. The good news is you still have some control over how to proceed with schooling at the high school and undergraduate level. 

Change in Rules for College Prep Tests

Typically, a student headed for college takes the SAT or ACT in person. These exams are often required to gain entrance to most colleges and universities. The New York Times reported last fall that if COVID-19 continued as a long-term threat to in-person testing, digital versions of entrance exams would be developed. Digital versions of the SAT and ACT will allow students to take these exams at home. Suggested ways to help prevent cheating include “locking down” a computer to use only the testing screen. The student would also appear with their camera and microphone on, providing proctors the ability to monitor students as they take the exam. 

Due to some colleges temporarily making them optional for incoming students, the SAT and ACT exams may prove a moot issue. Keep these developments in mind as you and your child investigate school choices. If a pre-entrance exam is required, whether virtual or in-person, many options exist for study guides, including software, books, and websites. Take advantage of these guides to prepare for exams and excel.

Choosing a College is a Multi-Step Process 

Many considerations factor into the decision of what college to attend. Distance from home, housing options, tuition, and degrees are among the most important choices to consider. It can take more than one discussion with your child to decide which schools to put on a “shortlist” to send applications to. Your child’s interests and abilities must be strongly considered. 

If your child is uncertain about what subject major to choose, they can enter as “undeclared.” They can take some of the required classes, such as English and History, with various courses that may spark their interest in a degree program. Many students discover their passion by taking just one elective class, like Music, Psychology, or Accounting. If your child already knows what major they want, focus on colleges that offer degrees in that subject. 

Remember that a student can major in one subject and minor in another, allowing them to expand their expertise and combine two subjects. For example, a major in Art combined with a minor in Business can help prepare a student to build a career running a gallery.

Financial Factors to Consider

If finances are limited, a local community college can offer a low-cost start to a college career. This can also cut costs by allowing the student to commute from home. If your child is moving out-of-town for school, investigate the price of living on-campus. On-campus living often includes meal plans in addition to room and board. Sharing an apartment off-campus with other students will not include meals. 

Put on your “detective hat” and look for financial assistance, such as scholarships and grants. High school and college counselors can offer insight and tips for cutting the cost of tuition. Consult with friends and extended family members who have dealt with this previously, as well as sources like librarians, books, and internet-based articles. 

Many students work part-time to help pay for their expenses while at school. University advisors can connect you with on-campus employment opportunities, such as working in the library or cafeteria. Advisors can also provide lists of companies in the area that frequently employ students. 

Transportation is another factor to consider for cutting costs. Many college campuses are “walker-friendly,” meaning that many businesses and restaurants are near the campus, allowing students to walk or ride a bike for necessities and entertainment. Many colleges have trams or buses that cater to students, some of them free-of-charge. Utilizing these options may make a car’s need and its related expenses unnecessary, saving money over several years.

College Is Still a Reality During a Pandemic

Campus safety is concerning for both parents and students.  The coronavirus has amplified the need for heightened security. The vaccine is now being distributed, expected to be widely implemented by the time the fall semester rolls around. While the concern about the virus will still be a reality this fall, the vaccine means that things will be much different from last fall. Be sure to check with any college you are interested in to see what COVID compliance practices they use. Many schools are currently offering some or all online classes for the current semester, with details potentially changing this fall.

Every parent gets a little nervous about helping their child prepare for and choose a college, but it’s even tougher during a pandemic. Last fall had families in a panic about college plans, but due to the vaccine being rolled out now, this fall will likely look different. It’s not too early to start investigating entrance exam choices, financial aspects, and which schools offer what your child needs. Sustain Recovery offers schooling assistance while your child attends treatment with us, allowing them to stay up-to-date with their studies. We provide comprehensive programs designed to help clients who might have been treatment-resistant in the past and can benefit from our long-term programs. Our staff of treatment professionals excels at guiding adolescents and young adults, allowing them to achieve and maintain sobriety, as well as manage any co-occurring mental illnesses. For more details about how we can help you or your loved one, call us today! (949) 407-9052