V Formers Attend College Information Sessions

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, many colleges have changed their admissions processes by changing their admissions requirements and holding virtual information sessions.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, many colleges have changed their admissions processes by changing their admissions requirements and holding virtual information sessions. Because of the new format, Lawrenceville’s College Counseling Department has been adapting to the adjustments in hopes of alleviating stress for its V Formers this fall and winter.

Co-Director of College Counseling Jeffrey Durso-Finley P’13 ‘14 ‘19 ‘22 noted that virtually every selective college and university has made standardized testing optional, with many schools also eliminating alumni interviews, on-campus information sessions, and tours. With each school making adjustments to application requirements, Durso-Finley explained that “admission officers have been emphasizing a holistic admissions review process.”

In addition to standardized testing options, Lawrenceville has invited several colleges to hold virtual sessions with its students this fall term. Co-Director of College Counseling Holly Burks Becker P’06 ‘09 ‘12 said these Zoom meetings are “meant to mimic the kind of programming that we would ordinarily have for [V Formers] in the fall.” As opposed to the general information sessions given in the spring to IV Form students, V Form students usually congregate in smaller sizes to speak with the college representative, which “gives students the chance to ask more questions and engage in a Harkness-style conversation.”

According to Burks Becker, colleges have “risen to the challenges raised by Covid-19 beautifully.” On the virtual information sessions, she said, “I would argue [that] in some ways, students are getting better information out of colleges now than they ever have. You can really personalize your research online in a way you’ve never been able to before, so as long as students take advantage of these opportunities to have conversations, they’re going to get a lot of good information and attention.”

From a student’s perspective, however, Bella Shroff ’21 said that it has been difficult to create personal connections with college counselors in a virtual environment. With all communication only on emails, phone calls, and Zoom, Shroff stated, “It’s harder to make an impression on someone when you don’t get to see them face to face.” In addition, “not being able to visit college campuses for college tours has really made it difficult to narrow down [her] list [of schools].”

Michael Zhang ’21 agreed, reflecting on the increased difficulties present in this year’s V Form fall. “One valuable thing about [V Form] fall is the face-to-face time you get with your teacher, recommenders, and college counselor...Face to face interactions are a lot more productive for students, and we haven’t been able to have much of those this year,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Durso-Finley remains optimistic for the upcoming months. “We need to remember what continues to be the same—which is almost all of the process—versus what might be different. Doing so will help remind students and families of the positive side of this admission season.”

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