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Many high school students are wondering how to be prepared for the upcoming school year as COVID-19 continues to be part of our new normal. Attending virtual College Readiness programs through Queens Public Library can help you to adapt and prepare to apply to college. Read more to find out how COVID-19 may affect your admissions process.

Shifting Priorities in College Admission Process
    Princeton Review’s Outreach Manager Alison Pascale explains, “The college admissions process is very different from previous years. Students should be focusing on keeping their grades up, certainly, and start working on their applications as soon as they open. The college search process for students has definitely been impacted, and this year many students that would have gone on campus visits won’t have gotten that chance. It’s important to reach out to college’s admissions offices before submitting applications with any questions you may have. Students should also work to make sure that their personal statements are polished, but most importantly communicate who they are and why they want to go to college. Without test scores and extracurriculars for many students, the personal statements and letters of recommendation just matter that much more.”
Securing Recommendations for College
    Since getting recommendations from teachers is more important than ever this year, making an extra effort to forge a relationship with them will matter. Pascale notes, “This school year is certainly going to take additional focus for seniors, and the biggest hurdle will be college applications and keeping their grades up through virtual and hybrid learning. The most important thing for seniors this year will be forging connections with their teachers, even if they are learning virtually. Sending emails with questions that go beyond just assignments – clarifying larger topics, expressing interest in learning more about certain subject areas – can go a long way in making sure that students get the support they need. If students still need to ask for letters of recommendation, this can also be a good way to ensure that you get a personalized letter that speaks to your curiosity and engagement.”
Learn about Colleges through Virtual Fairs
    One way you can find out about colleges is through virtual college fairs; “the great thing about virtual college fairs is that students can be exposed to colleges they wouldn’t have known to look at otherwise. If your school is hosting a virtual college fair, I highly recommend attending. The most important part, though, is following up with colleges you are interested in after the fair to ask specific questions. This really will help you stand out as an applicant,” says Pascale.
    Before you attend the virtual college fair, you must prepare. Ask yourself the following questions. 
•    Do you have an idea of where you want to go to school?
•    What are you looking for in a college?
•    Am I interested in remote learning opportunities? Does the college offer those? 
•    Does it offer the major that is of interest?
•    Is it a large or small school? 
•    Urban or rural?
•    Public or private?      
        Once you have answered these questions, it is time to explore the list of schools that will be represented. There will be schools that are new to you. This will give you the chance to check out those schools. There may be schools represented that offer your major and meets your criteria. Register early! Usually the virtual college fair will mimic the structure of an onsite event. There will be the college fair portion. In addition, there will be workshops that you can choose to attend. Remember they may have a cap on the number of students that register. You do not want to miss the event because you waited too late.
        The National Association for College Admission Counseling will hold virtual fairs this fall. Visit here to learn more. The dates and times are as follows:
•    10/12                   1-9pm
•    10/18                   12-8pm
•    11/8                      2-10pm

U.S News:  A Guide to Virtual College Admissions Tools

How to Apply for FAFSA: FAFSA Application 

The New School Center for New York City Affairs: FAFSA How-To Guide for High School Students 

U.S. News: Navigating Test-Optional Admissions Amid Covid-19

U.S. News: What to Know about the Optional SAT Essay

U.S. News: Where to Find the Lowest College Costs by Income