I'm writing this blog from my bedroom office after a very long Zoom meeting. My eyes are tired and I'm trying to concentrate and tune out the noisy construction outside of my building. I am very fortunate in many ways, but life hasn't been the same since March and it hasn't been easy being far away from my family overseas. For example, on the trivial level, I used to see my group workout class as a way to get out of my house, feel part of a community and keep fit, and my Zoom group is great but not the same. However, there have also been things that have helped me take care of myself such as planning a walk to a nearby 'hidden secret' nature reserve, or just having a shared moment of laughter with a small group of friends across states.
We know that you are also missing things and adjusting to a screen heavy world, so I asked my colleagues Aaron, Beky, Denny, Evelyn, Kella and Rachel if they had any advice for you as you too adjust to a virtual college search:
Don’t feel pressured to sign up for every single thing a college has to offer online. There are so many things out there and you can’t do it all. Make sure you get the most important facts (including what you need to apply, financial aid information) and then pick the things that appeal to you the most.
And don’t feel bad if you have to leave early! We get that you have homework and family responsibilities and so much more on your plate. If you need to squeeze out of a virtual session before it’s done...that’s okay!
Extracurricular activities look different for all of us this year. You may not be able to make a 1:1 substitution, and we understand that. Take a deep breath and do something outside of your comfort zone that you always wanted to try but perhaps never had the time for — maybe learning about a new topic, painting, reading, taking a walk, or just some activity that brings you joy! Please know that home responsibilities such as caring for your grandparents or looking after siblings are always activities that we recognize and respect on your activity list.
Don't feel the need to apologize if you weren't able to attend an event you registered for. We understand life happens! If you know ahead of time, feel free to cancel, but if not, you can just reschedule for another event if you want.
Zoom fatigue is real. Take time away from your screens. Don’t feel like you need to be dressed up for events and if you’d rather turn off your camera and just speak, or send a chat message, that is OK. Our information session is a webinar so we can’t see you!
Remember that it’s ~real people~ on the other side of the screen. You might be exhausted asking about study abroad...or housing...or psych programs in your 12th virtual visit of the week! The people on the other side are just as happy to talk with you about college as they are about your favorite books or the delicious new recipe you served to your family at Sunday dinner... Don’t feel like you need to “be on” for every single admissions officer you encounter! We value real conversations (on many topics!) as much as you do.
Find things you enjoy that don’t involve a screen — cooking, reading a book, taking a moment to enjoy nice weather.
Remember to take a step back or away from your applications so that you can come back to them with fresh eyes.
Make sure you spend time (in a safe way) with friends! Socially distanced doesn't equal socially isolated - Scriblio is a fun game to play via Zoom with friends
If you like to chat, maybe attend a student panel!
Keep it bite-sized with social media. Following a few colleges on Instagram is an easy way to get information.
There is a lot of pressure to demonstrate interest and many myths out there. Go to the source and ask colleges. Don’t feel nervous to email or call us — this is our job and we're happy to help put your mind at ease.
Have healthy boundaries with people who give lots of unsolicited advice that stresses you out. Instead, keep a small trusted group including your school counselor/college and career advisor, your parents, a friend who knows you well. Your school counselor is the best place to go for general advice, and if it's a college specific question — again, don't be afraid to ask us!
I hope this blog provides some reassurance that colleges are trying to find new ways to help get you information and you don't have to do EVERYTHING. You are human and we care about you.