Students all across the country are making one of the tougher decisions of their life in the midst of the pandemic: where they will spend the next four years at college.
For some, it’s set in stone. No college. For others it doesn’t matter, because community college was the next step regardless. But then there are those who had aspirations of jumping into a four-year college.
For those who want to go away to college, the decision process has changed drastically. The counseling staff at Providence Catholic in New Lenox is doing its best to make these next steps and decisions less scary for students.
The first step to making it a little easier is having a fully remote counselor that can connect with families at more convenient times. It still has an in-school counselor to assist during school hours.
Luke Senffner, director of counseling, said the limited contact with the students has been the toughest part.
“We haven’t been able to track them down and say, ‘You have to do this or that,’” Senffner said. “They’re here every other day, so we tend to meet with kids virtually. We send lots of text messages and phone calls and do follow ups so that it doesn’t get lost.”
He said the counselors have had to put in extra strenuous effort, but are “fantastic and have been able to handle it.” The accessibility has made all the difference.
Emma Kulpinski, a senior at Providence, has not made her decision yet, but said she is lucky because she made visits prior to the pandemic.
“I think right now it is hard because you cant visit during the quarantine,” she said. Before, I would go drive up and walk around the campus. You also don’t know what you should do next year and what it will look like and you don’t want to pay to be online only.”
Kulpinski is also grateful for the extra effort her counselors have put it, as they are answering questions they may not even know the answer to.
“It means a lot to me because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “They’re always responding to emails, sending transcripts to colleges, sending weekly emails seeing if there is anything you need and create virtual college visits with college reps.”
Senffner agreed that the uncertainty of what it will be like when we get back to “normal” is a tough thing to grasp.
Another thing is that many colleges have changed what they need sent to them. Some require test scores as usual, some don’t need them at all, some areas of study want them and others don’t, some only want it if you got a certain score and some won’t consider test scores even if you send them.
“To navigate that alone is tough, but a big part of what our counselors are doing is keeping track of what the students are doing,” he said.
“It’s impossible for the students to process this all by themselves. We’re happy to help navigate that process.”