Application Anxiety

Seniors, teachers, adapt to virtual admissions cycle, CCC offers support


As the school day ends, Sabrina Kozarovitsky ’21 logs into yet another Zoom meeting. Instead of a class, this is a virtual campus tour for a university that she is applying to. For thousands of seniors across the country like Kozarovitsky, virtual college visits are just one of the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the college application process. At Stevenson, students, teachers and the College and Career Center (CCC) are all working in their own ways to adapt to a virtual college admissions cycle. 

One of the major setbacks for current high school seniors has been the loss of in-person visits to college campuses. In-person visits often help students identify which schools are a good fit by giving them a chance to walk across campus and get a feel for the college’s environment. 

“I’ve gone on a lot of virtual visits — they’re nice — but without in-person communication, it is often harder to ask questions,” Kozarovitsky said. “I know they give opportunities to people who wouldn’t have been able to travel and visit schools in person, and colleges are trying their best.”

Given these setbacks, the CCC is offering as much support as possible in a virtual environment. Dan Miller and Sara English, the CCC’s two post-secondary counselors, have worked to adapt their usual curriculum to an online platform.

“We’re still offering everything we normally would: essay reads, workshops, college rep visits, except it’s now through Zoom,” English said.

They’ve also implemented a “Drop-in Tuesdays” program, which began on September 1. During Drop-in Tuesdays, students can come in either at 7:45 a.m. or during 8th period to ask any questions they might have in regards to their essays as well as get live responses from the counselors. Carson Ezell ’21 is one senior who has taken advantage of the CCC’s offerings.

“I went to drop-in hours on Tuesday and got really helpful answers to my questions. I listened to the other kids who asked questions as well,” Ezell said. “It’s just as easy to get in contact with [the CCC] as it would be in a normal application season.”

Aside from the CCC, Stevenson also offers an annual college essay writing workshop during summer school. This year, although the class was able to adapt to an online format, it posed some challenges for workshop teachers, especially when it came to creating a sense of community and trust with their students.

“There’s something about not seeing a person’s face, body language, hearing their tone and interacting with them, that makes it harder to get to know people for an essay writing workshop,” said Noel Johnston, a college essay workshop and English teacher. “You’ve got to make them feel comfortable to give glimpses into their mind and heart and soul.”

However, both teachers and students have found silver linings within the remote environment. For Johnston, the use of breakout rooms made conferencing with individual students easier. For Ezell, the 15-minute passing periods and no transportation time have provided more time for him to work on college applications. 

Although seniors have to adjust to a virtual application cycle, teachers — like AP Physics C teacher Sheila Edstrom — are confident that students will be able to adapt and be successful in their life after high school. 

 “It is going to work out,” Edstrom said. “If you choose to go to college, you’re going to go to college. It may not be your top choice, but it will work out wherever you land, and you will have opportunities to make the most out of it.”