Sophomore and Juniors: In the Time of Corona Virus

You are living in a historic time.

You are living in a historic time. Never have we known such a time in history. You could interview your grandparents, and if you have any great grandparents or elderly friends, there has been nothing like this in comparison. This is an extraordinary way to spend perhaps the last quarter of your school year. There is a lot to accomplish, and the linear timeline established is somewhat out of sync. Many universities have changed their timelines, and there are so many changes, it is difficult to keep up. 

Online Classes

First and foremost, as you know, your course work has gone online and will quite possibly remain so for the rest of the school year. Be in touch with your teachers, guidance counselors and be sure to look for announcements from the school, College Board, ACT, etc.  Be aware of how they are going to communicate with you. Your school may be more flexible with grades and understand their grading system. Be assured that universities are going to look at this in a new light. From what I am reading and seeing on webinars, they will look at pass/fail (if your school decides to go that route), by looking at your transcript and seeing the history of your performance. 

If your school is going to a Pass/Fail platform, be sure your teachers are clear in what the standards are for Pass/Fail. Learn the material well. If you have challenges, you can hire an online tutor, form study groups with your friends. 

Your Study Space

Your study space should be a permanent location without distractions. Have a comfortable chair, make sure you are physically comfortable and not in danger of neck injury or carpal tunnel. You will be spending a lot of time at the computer. Connect with your online provider. Many have helplines and can connect you with higher speeds if necessary. 

Learning the online platforms:  No doubt, you are familiar with these platforms, and given that you are the digital natives of the world, this will be easier for you than perhaps your teachers. Give them some slack as they turn to a platform that they could not have imagined they would have used. In addition, as you form study groups, use the Zoom or Skype platform so you can hold your own meetings. Some internet providers may provide these platforms free of charge. Check. Extra speed may be given free of charge as well. 

Schedule:  Try to stick with a schedule. This may more resemble a college/university schedule than a traditional high school schedule. You may be retrieving assignments, turning them in, listening to lectures, responding to questions, reading, etc. So, it will look like a lot of free time. Don’t get caught up in what looks like ‘dead space’. Try and make a schedule with your class responsibilities, chores at home, homework time, personal time. 

Just do your coursework well. These grades are still pivotal to your success in school and your transcript. 

University Planning

If you are a Junior:  

Be sure you are caught up on your high school’s college counseling platform (i.e. Naviance). In some cases, you will not be able to access your teachers for Letters of Recommendation until you are caught up with this platform. 

Common Application and Coalition Application:  Be sure you fill out the nuts and bolts of your Common Application, Coalition Application as well. The Common App can only be filled in so far, the Coalition, if there are any Coalition schools on your list can be filled in more detail. 


Determine teacher recommenders: decide who you wish to write those Letters of Recommendations (LOR). Generally speaking, it is one science/math, one humanities and your college counselor at school. Try and approach these teachers before the end of school. Don’t wait until September. Many have a cap on the number of letters they will write. Also, the person you choose doesn’t necessarily have to be a person who gives you the best grades, just someone who knows you well, respects and understands you. 

Senior Year Courses:  Be sure your course work is in place for September through the rest of the year.

AP: Be in touch with your high school and The College Board. As you are well aware, the AP exam is going to look quite different this year.

The assessments will be online and 45 minutes (unless school is in session, but that is doubtful at this writing), and open book. 


ACT,SAT,SAT II TESTING: Standardized testing has been cancelled at least up until June, if not beyond. Be sure to keep in touch with your school counselor, the College Board and ACT. We can hope that these testing organizations will be flexible with test dates. 

Some universities have gone test optional for the 2021 application year, some are contemplating it. From what we are learning, universities are being flexible with their admissions. Be sure to do your research and see which schools are being test flexible, test optional. 

International Students: 

English as a Second Language Testing:  TOEFL, IELTS:  see updated information:

IB Testing

If you are taking any IB SL exams, see the International Baccalaureate web site and be in touch with the IBO coordinator at your school. for the latest updates. 

Extracurricular Activities: no doubt, these are all cancelled. If you are a musician, keep up with your practice, if you are an artist, keep up with your sketchbook and art work, Don’t drop your activities, and it may be that some of your activities might show up online. There is so much you can do without school (more later on this). 

  • Artists: work on your portfolio-stay in touch with your art teacher, portfolio coach, etc. 
  • Musicians:  work on your performance videos
  • Drama: as above- work on your performance videos
  • Remote Lessons:  Music Lessons, tutorials, learn how to program, code, cook, play guitar, etc. 

Community Service:  Help a neighbor- grocery shop for an elderly neighbor, stay connected with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, food banks, political campaigns. 

From a wonderful colleague of mine (Michelle Humbach: Humbach Educational Consulting) put together a list of things to help during this COVID-19 crisis: 

  • Helping medical professionals in a variety of ways from adopting a healthcare worker or checking out The Red Cross for donations
  • For First Responders:  contribute to an online fundraiser or a not for profit organization
  • Respect for the Elderly:  go on to your neighborhood’s NextDoor platform or  using social media, community neighborhood platforms to assist in any kind of errands or grocery shopping
  • Helping younger students: again, using social media platforms or friends of the family, see if any younger students need assistance with classes, tutoring, etc. 
  • Politics: Remote political volunteering: the 2020 election will still go on. 
  • IT:  if you are talented in this area, assistance will be invaluable

The list goes on, and for details, go to: and connect with the blog. 

This way, students can maintain their IB CAS Hours, National Honor Society hours, obligatory community service hours for high school graduation. 

School Visits 

Many families had planned Spring Break trips to visit universities. 

This is a conundrum that universities are trying to respond to the best they can by offering virtual tours and one on one conversions via the phone and perhaps by Skype or FaceTime. Please reach out to World Student Support so I can assist you and put in touch with admissions deans and hopefully find you students to connect with. 

Summer Programs:  Many cancellations are starting to come in. Contact World Student Support for alternative online options, or take a look at the above for some online volunteer opportunities. 

Crafting Your College List:  Many have crafted your college list. Perhaps you would like to recraft the list or discuss alternatives. Please reach out to World Student Support and discuss any alternatives from Gap Year, Community College, or recrafting the college list. 

Remember:  stay informed, stay focused, create a schedule that is suitable to keep you on top of your studies. While there appears to be flexibility in grading and how universities will be looking at students, your schedule will help keep you on track (sample schedule): 

Get a good night’s sleep:  9 hours, no tech allowed in your room

Breakfast:  eat well, 30 minutes

OnLine Classes: 5 hours

Lunch: 45 Minutes

Homework: 2 hours

Exercise: 1 hour

Personal Projects: 2 hours

Family, friends, down time: 2 hours

Prep for bed: 1 hour

Be sure to exercise – so much is online: yoga, exercise classes, etc. get out and walk, run, etc. practice physical distancing. Just stay well and safe. 

With thanks to: Bruce Epstein: NACAC member, Michelle Humbach, IEC, Smith-Rivas, IEC

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