Even without having to negotiate a pandemic, choosing the right college can be the hardest decision you’ll ever make. Hannah Serota, founder and CEO of Creative College Connections, not only gets that, she is exactly the kind of guide you need to help you make the choice that’s right for you.
How can we be so sure? Because Hannah and her team have not only personally visited and vetted hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide, but they work closely with students to discern exactly the right experience that they’re looking for from their college career. Oh, and one more thing – she and her family suffered through COVID-19 together this spring. So, for her, the coronavirus issues that might otherwise complicate your decision – considerations like what administrators have done to make their campuses safe while fostering a sense of community – are deeply personal.
“We may well see graduates opt to stay closer to home this fall, to give universities the time they need to construct hybrid virtual and in-person learning experiences that will best serve their student bodies,” Hannah said. Of course, that’s not necessarily the kind of on-campus experience students from our area have been imagining since middle school.
To find out whether their “dream” school really meets their expectations, Hannah usually advises rising juniors to spend spring break visiting colleges in person, interviewing college professors in their preferred majors, checking out the dorms, sports and other features of campus life. “This year that was all cut short, so the question for us became, ‘how do you get solid information about colleges and in order to decide where to apply?’”
The answer for many students involves taking a “virtual tour” on the college’s website. Hannah says that she does encourage students to do virtual tours, “there is no such thing as an ugly website.” Getting the real scoop takes a bit more digging and accessing third-party sources.
Hannah’s solution, the “NonVisit College Visit,” is a bit more proactive. With the group’s deep knowledge about colleges and their curriculums – each of the team having worked in college admission offices – they brought a variety of compelling institutions to the students through video interviews they did personally. Last spring, they interviewed 22 colleges in 17 states and made each one an event! Many of these sessions are accessible through https://www.creativecollegeconnections.com/what-about-college, but the true value of working with the team is the extent to which these examinations train students to focus on and the types of questions to ask as well as what colleges are interested in seeing in their in-coming student bodies.
To learn more about recent changes to the college admissions process, we recommend joining Hannah’s August 2nd seminar on the subject, which is free and open to all. Watch https://www.facebook.com/creativecollegeconnections/ for details.
College Application Tips
1. Loudoun County decided to postpone standardized testing this summer, but there are now multiple opportunities to take SAT and ACT standardized tests in person as well as online. As they are every year, essays, transcripts and teacher recommendations will still weigh heavily.
2. There is a new question in the Common Application (and the Coalition Application will probably follow suit) that’s asking students for additional information about your COVID-19 experience. “Be prepared to give a good account of your time.”
3. Lean into deadlines. “Have your applications ready to submit but wait until a couple weeks prior to the deadline to send them in in case anything changes in the interim.”