The statistics are scary, the future imperceptible and the hope of things returning to ‘normal’ dismal. How then does one maintain one’s sanity in such times? Or better asked, what will come of being sane and optimistic when opinion around us is wrought with hopelessness and failure? The world has indeed hit rock bottom. Never before has it stopped (literally) all at once for everyone and the scariest part is the uncertainty about how long this will last.
As an active and experienced academician, I am well aware of the consequences the present health crisis has had on the education sector. Large, medium and small entities – schools, colleges, training institutes and individuals – are clueless about where they stand and what the future holds for them. At such a time it is understandable that training institutes, such as the one I head in Dubai, need to act with honesty and farsightedness to guide students and parents.
With one test after the other being cancelled (March SAT/ April ACT/ May SAT/June SAT SUBJECT) students have gone into a frenzy and parents all the more. All the same, I’d say find the ‘good’ in this crisis. Winston Churchill, before the end of WW II said- “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Obviously, the insinuation was to look for the ‘silver lining’ in what lay before the world. It might just be prudent to follow this advice today. That the COVID-19 is a crisis is an established fact; that we need to find the ‘good’ in it is for the resilient and farsighted to pursue and to establish.
Talking about High School Seniors who applied last October, who have or are waiting for college admissions, who are going to graduate from school this July and who are supposed to be at the Univ in August, the ‘good’ in this crisis is that you may find yourself moving off the waitlist of your dream school and into the admitted list! Or you may find yourself getting admissions from your ‘risk’ schools! And although you don’t know whether Colleges will open this Fall, you need to believe ( and trust) that the Colleges are working full force to be prepared for every possibility and are gearing up to educate you – if not in a live classroom- then online for a semester.
For the High School Junior- the 11th grader – who has the whole of 2020 and up to September 2021 to build up good application credentials the ‘good’ of the present situation is that if you actually end up getting good scores on the tests Universities need you to take, you may eventually get to an even higher ranked program than you might have in ‘normal’ circumstances. With many students dropping out of the competition and with universities eager to have a good crop in in 2022, you could optimize your chances by being better ready for the opportunities that come in the aftermath of any crisis for those who survive it.
Of course, one may wonder- will these tests ever happen? They will. Or at least be optimistic and trust that they will. College Board – keeping up its tradition of supporting students – is making a concerted effort to plan ahead. Recently it cancelled the June SAT SUBJECT test but at the same time announced (https://pages.collegeboard.org/sat-covid-19-updates) that- “We’ll provide weekend SAT administrations every month through the end of the calendar year, beginning in August. This includes a new administration in September and the previously scheduled tests on August 29, October 3, November 7, and December 5.” And also said that- “In the unlikely event that schools do not reopen this fall, College Board will provide a digital SAT for home use, like how we’re delivering digital exams to 3 million AP students this spring.”
Many parents are misled into believing that the Universities have done away with test score requirements and so there is no point in preparing for the SAT or the ACT. Some universities – not all- have waived the requirement for the high school seniors who are due to apply in September-October of 2020 for entry to the class of 2021. This waiver is as of today only for this academic year. Falling prey to rumor is the least intelligent path to take today. Instead, spend time planning for the year ahead and readying yourself for the tests you need to write so that as soon as the dark cloud lifts and things start limping back to normal you are at least ready to charter your way ahead.