The best thing students can do right now.
For many of us in the United States, it's week three of quarantine. The novelty of sheltering in place has worn off and we're trying to settle into the current reality.
It's a hectic balance between parents being at home during a crisis trying to work while students go on video conference classes -- full time work and full time running a home can be stressful.
And, for those parents who are in essential roles and cannot work from home, this balance is even more complex (If this is your situation, I want to thank you for your work).
I've been getting a lot of questions from college bound students and their families, but no one truly knows the answers, yet:
When will school start again?
What will happen to my grades?
When will the SATs get rescheduled?
... the list is long.
As a college admissions and career coach, I keep getting asked, "What's the best thing students can work on right now to stay competitive for college applications?"
While I could give standard responses like "use this time to study for the SATs" or "focus on those AP exams," it would be completely tone deaf to the reality of what's happening today.
It's a scary time right now. The entire world has slowed down. And, no one truly knows when this will situation will end.
In a time of massive change and uncertainty, students need support. Students need a place to vent. Students need a place to organize their thoughts.
So, what's the best thing students can do right now?
That's right: Finding an outlet to put what they're currently experiencing into words is the best thing they can do right now.
Not only would it be good for students' mental health, it can serve as a time capsule to look back on decades from now as a reminder of how strong they were as kids.
I remember my AP language arts teacher having us complete a 12th grade memory book -- one full of prompts like documenting the life of an elder in the family, writing about where we were during a catastrophic event, or having a best friend write a letter to us predicting our future.
At the time I thought the assignment was so useless.
In looking back at the year I graduated high school, that fluffy assignment turned out to be one of the most meaningful assignments I've ever had.
The elder I interviewed was my grandfather who passed away shortly after (who I was so close to, I later named my child after him).
The catastrophic event that I started off senior year with was 9/11.
The best friend who wrote that letter predicting my future ended up becoming my husband.
Now is an important time for reflection, so I want to offer students a similar chance to document something that will probably never happen again in their lives.
Students can blog, vlog, post on IG, use an old school pen and journal -- whatever format they choose -- and use this as an outlet for what they're feeling right now.
Students can sign up directly or parents can sign up and forward the emails to their children.
As an added bonus, for those students applying to college in the near future, they can look back at these entries to help spark ideas for their college application essays.
As a community, we need to mentally process what's happening so that we can learn and grow from the experience.
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