Image courtesy of rhodesj.
Image courtesy of rhodesj.

Juniors in Quarantine: SATs, GPAs, Oh My!

May 29, 2020

School closures have thrusted high school students and staff into uncharted territory—and juniors are in the left field. 

“I have received a lot of questions and concerns, at this point in the year, about SATs and ACTs, letters of recommendation, and how we will continue to plan for the college process remotely,” says Ms. Roberts, a guidance counselor at CHS.

Every year, many juniors take their SAT in the spring, but that is not happening this year. SATs for May, March, and June are cancelled (with refunds). The College Board states they’ll be taking measures to ensure access to SATs. They’ll add a new test-taking date in September, as well as “provide additional test center capacity.” Furthermore, students will have priority access to register for August, September, and October, if they’re already registered for June or if they’re graduating in 2021 and haven’t taken their SAT yet. 

Student Nick Athanasopoulos missed the SAT by the skin of his teeth.

“I had my SAT scheduled for March 14th, literally the day after the lockdown started,” he recalls. “When I learned of its cancelation, I was pretty angry because I didn’t see why the school couldn’t just stay open for literally one more day so we could take the test.”

“But hearing how colleges aren’t looking at the SAT this [admissions] cycle, I am a bit more relieved,” Nick adds. He refers to the growing number of institutions, including prestigious universities such as Boston University and Tufts University, have amended their admission requirements to become test-optional. 

Another mission for juniors is to maintain a satisfactory GPA. This one, though, seems easier for many students. Nick says that “[his] GPA will be the main focus of my college application process,” and he’s not too worried by it. “Maintaining a high GPA is easy enough when the work you get is equivalent to busy work you’d usually get with a substitute teacher,” he explains.

Another junior, Keren Binderman, has stated that teachers are “very accessible” thanks to Google Hangouts and Zoom, and that grading procedures were “thoroughly and reassuringly” explained. “We still have the same assignments and the same projects, so I don’t really feel any additional weight has been added to each of my grades,” she says. 

In regards to recommendation letters, Ms. Roberts says that “Students can easily write a kind, thoughtful email to their junior year teacher (two of them) that they wish to ask. I have had a handful of students do this already and they have all received wonderful responses from their teachers.” (Recommendation forms, as well as brag sheets, can be obtained here.) “I think this is actually easier than asking in person so it’s definitely something students can do right now to check something off their list,” she adds. 

Finally, students are encouraged to research colleges they may apply to next school year.

“I recently sent out an email to my caseload of students asking them to make sure their junior questionnaire (a survey in Naviance) is complete and to email me if they want me to add schools to their Naviance, but students can also do this on their own!” Ms. Roberts says.

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