Sigh... I miss this place! (source
hew man, where to even begin? These are trying times, to say the least. You’ll be telling your grandkids about it. Today’s blog is going to address as many things as I can in one post. I’ll be splicing tidbits of how to cope in this time of crisis with a few pieces of advice, particularly for high school juniors and seniors. I am no mental health expert but I did a great deal of research and advice-seeking from friends and colleagues to provide as much support as I can in all this. A long blog, but bolded sections are here for you TLDR’ers to scroll to the stuff that might apply to you.Don’t underestimate human resilience.
This one comes from a blog I read
about ways to cope with COVID-19 anxiety. I am sitting here in my living room as I write this blog and I look outside my window to the glory that is all things New Orleans. Fifteen years ago, many thought New Orleans would never recover from Katrina. Many thought that we would never be back. But here we are, stronger and smarter and better than ever before. We humans are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for sometimes. The human spirit is a remarkable thing.Check on your friends. And your parents. And your grandparents
. As much as possible. Also remember that everyone responds differently to this. Sometimes it might be tempting to think “come on, every single high school senior in the world is going through this, lock it up/get it together!” but remember, every person is dealing with it differently and every person has their own set of anxieties to work through. Maybe people haven’t dealt with so many people in their world experiencing these feelings before. The best way to respond to people is to validate their feelings. Their feelings could be anxiety, fear, boredom, and more. In these unprecedented times remember to be supportive of everyone. Empathy goes a long way and all it takes is to say “This is all really hard. I am here for you and to listen when you need it.”Become acclimated with the uncertainty.
I told many Tulane students this: You cannot control what is happening right now (except by social distancing and washing your hands)
. So, if you cannot control it, can you control your response to it? This is the same message I've shared in this blog about reacting to college denials. You can’t control them, but you can control how you respond to them. Your friends and family will feed off of your energy and your vibe. A student who is enrolling at Tulane this year told me “your vibe attracts your tribe.” If you can respond to everything that is being thrown your way right now with care, compassion and strength, those around you might just feel that, too. You’re going to be cooped up for a while now, and those in close quarters with you will feed off of your energy. It’s also okay if your response right now has you feeling low energy or defeated. Those are valid feelings in a time like this. Lean on your people for support and experiment with different hobbies or activities that may bring back that energy.Don't feed into any false narratives.
You’ve probably seen this one a lot. The news ain’t good, but it's even worse if you spread anything false. Usually it starts with “I heard that…” or “I saw on Facebook that…” Do your best to only rely on the facts that you see from credible and respected sources.
Isn't she lovely? We'll be back here soon! (source
) I'm a junior in high school and all of my spring extracurricular activities have been canceled.
We totally get it. There are no sports. There is no spring musical. There is no dance recital. Listen, if you include on your Common Application activities section a list of all the books you read for pleasure during your social distancing, I’ll love it. Get creative. Maybe you love to paint and you go Instagram Live a few times and teach people to paint? You could be the next Bob Ross. Or maybe you’re a soccer player and you do a live video teaching people how to dribble a soccer ball on your own? We will love seeing anything you did during this whacky time.That brings me to some tips on how to stay busy right now:
What about the SAT? AP and IB testing?
- Get some exercise as much as you can. Check out all these free workouts.
- Walk a lot. And when you do, leave your phone at home. The bad news and Instagram Memes will be waiting for you when you get back. Take a break from it for a bit.
- Medidtate. I blog about this all the time. Calm has free stuff right now.
- Learn a new language. Duolingo is a great place to start.
- Learn Excel like a pro.
- Learn to code with these free coding sites.
- Tour some museums! So many are offering free tours right now.
- Pick up a totally new skill: car maintenance, gardening, cooking, baking, etc.
- Learn to cook from NOLA’s best chefs! The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute goes live with online cooking classes.
- Go for a cleanup. Grab a trash bag and walk around a neighborhood and pick up litter. Why not?
- Volunteer to get groceries or run errands for elderly family or neighbors. It’s a great way to contribute right now.
A lot of this is TBD, but rest assured we are going to support you as much as we can. We understand that the decisions College Board and ACT are making are completely out of your control. Tulane evaluates applications holistically and test scores are just a part of the application. We completely understand that you may only be able to take one test before you submit your application. We also will not ding anyone who does not take the AP test for their class.Take a news break.
It’s so tempting to refresh the news sites every hour to hear the latest. This is only going to get you trapped far down that rabbit hole. Stay tuned to the big stores but you have to give you head and your heart a break from time to time. Big tip: do not charge your phone next to your bed at night. Charge it somewhere where you cannot reach it. If the last thing you do before sleeping is reading the news, you’re gonna dream about it. If the first thing you do when you wake up is read the news, that will be a really tough way to start the day. Stay in the know, but don’t go overboard.
I am starting to notice a theme to these photos! (source
)I am a senior and thinking about taking a gap year.
Tulane, and most schools, are still fully supportive of a gap year if you feel it's in your best interest to do so. We approve each one on a case-by-case basis. We generally have around 35 students per
year take a gap year.What about Demonstrated Interest?
Tulane is very candid about our use of Demonstrated Interest as one part of the holistic admission process here. You’ll notice that on my previous blog about the topic, I mention that visiting is just one factor among dozens of ways that students can engage with us. My recommendation for juniors is to join as many virtual sessions as you are able to. Join the mailing lists of all schools that are on your radar and aim to tune into a few virtual sessions a week. I know it can seem overwhelming, but colleges and universities are going to great lengths to get as much virtual content up as possible. Chime in for a bit, ask a few questions and attempt to pick up on the values of each school. We’ll never ding you for not visiting Tulane (not now, not before coronavirus) but I can guess that some schools who use demonstrated interest might check if you tuned into any of our virtual sessions. In some ways, this levels the playing field- no matter what your socioeconomic status is, we’re all in the same virtual boat right now. Should I write my college essay about coronavirus?
Too soon to tell, but I am going to guess maybe not. Come November, if we get 15,000 essays about it, it will be super tough to stand out. It also might give application readers some serious fatigue. A lot of us, at that point, will be ready to put this all behind us. Instead, now is a great time to do some journaling. Write about your thoughts, feelings, emotions right now. Maybe this moment of pause has given you a different worldview? A different academic passion? Some of those journal entries you are writing might turn into a fabulous essay. It’s not about the destination, it's about the journey, and you are on a major life journey right now.I’ve been admitted to college but now my college savings have been depleted. Will I get or need more financial aid?
It doesn’t hurt to ask, but I suspect that most colleges and universities will be just as limited as you are and have lost just as much of their financial resources. Next year, when you apply for need based aid, these losses will be taken into account on your FAFSA. For now, you have nothing to lose by reaching out to your admission or financial aid counselor, but I don't envision a lot of schools will be able to make any drastic financial aid changes to your package at this moment.Create Boundaries and Routines.
You are probably spending a lot of time in the house, maybe with the same people who may or may not be reading the news and it could add to collective anxiety. Try to stick to a routine as best as possible. It is helpful to even write this out hour by hour so that you have something you can control. Boundaries are also incredibly important for maintaining your mental health. Boundaries do not have to be physical walls put up or holing yourself in your room alone, but maybe you have a friend or a parent that won’t stop regurgitating the news and it is causing you to have anxiety. It is okay to express to them “hey, I understand you are trying to gather and disseminate information, but right now I don’t have the capacity to talk about this and it’s causing me some stress. Do you mind if I excuse myself? Do you mind if we talk about something different? Would it be okay to watch a comedy special together right now instead.” It’s sort of like how we recommend families have “college free nights” where parents and students don’t talk about the college process together one night a week. These do not have to lead to fights, but rather just a genuine expression of your needs rights now while respecting their needs to communicate. Whatever it is that can make you feel better, while still collectively maintaining relationships.My high school is going pass/fail. Is that OK?
Whatever your school does, we’ll support it. If you have only P/F in the second semester, we’ll totally understand. It might mean we put a bit more emphasis on your first semester, but we’ll also completely understand your circumstances. If you’re currently on an upward trend, we’ll make the assumption that that trend would have continued in the second semester. We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt in every single way we can. Tulane just announced that students can opt to take their classes Pass, Minimal Pass, Or Fail, so we get it. Go to your online classes, do the best you can, make your presence felt, try your hardest. We’ll notice, trust me.
Back. Here. Soon. (source
)What about teacher recs?
Later this year, I'll be doing a virtual session on how to write great teacher letters of recommendation, especially in the time of coronavirus. We’ll completely understand the absence of time that they would have spent with you and we’ll give them the tips they need to still write great letters for you. We got you covered on this one.I am a senior and wondering, what about the waitlist?
I am going to be honest: they are likely going to be very big at a lot of schools this year. There are so many uncertainties right now and most schools are going to need to keep that big waitlist as a safety net. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s a consequence of all this. I’ve got a great blog for what to do next
if you land on a school’s waitlist. We’ll release all admission decisions for deferred students and Regular Decision applicants on Tuesday, March 31st.And lastly, remember how much we still have to be grateful for.
I know it's so challenging to be away from your friends, and for my Tulane students, to have to pack up and leave this place. But, how lucky are we to get to have places we miss so much? How lucky are we to have things in our lives that we adore so much that it makes it hard to be away from? Remember that. I am about to pull the trigger on postponing my wedding in May. But hey, how grateful am I to even get to plan a wedding in the first place? I have been waiting my whole life to meet my fiance. What’s having to wait a few extra months to get to marry him? There are some folks out there, even some who are reading this blog, who have had to plan some unexpected funerals right now. Everyone is struggling with something right now, but everyone also has many things in their life that we should be grateful for. Never forget this.
Stay strong. Stay safe. Reach out to us if you need anything- Tulane is here for you. And one day, as hard as it can be to remember right now, this too... shall pass.
Here's an engagement photo of Drew and me. We might not be getting married when we planned, but when we finally do, it will be the happiest day ever! And also, very Tulane-y. Stay tuned :) Huge thank you to everyone who helped with this blog: Allie Blum, Jill DeRosas, Owen Knight, Angie Cooksy / Bradley University, Bart Gummere / Eastside Prep, Marcia Hunt / Pine Crest. Mercersburg Academy, Brian Leipheimer/ Collegiate School, Lauren Avalos / Gann Academy, Amy Baumgartel Singer / The Wheeler School, Andrea Satariano / Sewickley Academy, Ari Worthman / Lakeside School, Lee Nuckolls / FVS, Margot Dorion / Cate, Isidore Newman School, Matthew DeGreeff / Middlesex School, Quenby Mott / The Kinkaid School, Lew Stival / Blair Academy, Amy Rogers / Miss Porter's, Kate Ramsdell / Noble and Greenough School, Scott Chrysler / Episcopal School of Acadiana, Moira McKinnon / Berwick Academy, Sarah Miller / Marymount High School.