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How to Successfully Navigate Online and Hybrid Learning Environments

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As we head into the fall, schools are beginning to announce plans for online or hybrid learning environments. Many families are concerned, based on their experiences from the spring, that students will fall behind academically, extracurricularly, and socially. What can you do to ensure that you and your children have a successful year?

Ways Admissions Will Change

By now, you are likely aware that dozens of universities around the country have moved to a test-optional policy. The Ivy League, the UCs, as well as several other institutions have announced that they will no longer require the SAT/ACT as a mandatory requirement for admission. While this certainly seems beneficial for students that struggle with standardized testing and time restrictions, this does not mean students should refrain from taking these exams. Submitting test scores for the SAT, ACT and SAT IIs can be the deciding factor for admitting one student over another.  Strong standardized test scores demonstrate the ability to perform under pressure and keep up with university-level rigor.

We recommend students interested in STEM especially to still take these exams as it benefits the quality of applications greatly to prove students are able to handle the rigor of higher-level quantitative courses. For students pursuing a STEM path, we recommend taking the SAT Math Level 2 and at least one SAT science subject test (Biology, Chemistry, or Physics).

The SAT and ACT are intending on holding exams this fall, but be sure to confirm with your local testing center to ensure the exams are still being administered.

Due to the change in requirements like standardized testing, universities are shifting their priorities when it comes to applications and admissions requirements. Many admissions officers have expressed that they may need more time with their decisions when it comes to deciding on which students are admitted. Many schools, including Princeton, are pushing back or canceling Early Action/Early Decision deadlines to allow for more testing and to shift priorities.

While test-optional admissions and changes to EA/ED deadlines are at the forefront for both parents and students applying this coming year, there are other changes to keep in mind. It is likely that fewer athletes will be recruited and there will be a heavier reliance on full-fee paying students. In addition, there will be more offers to international students if colleges and universities see a big drop in who shows up in this year’s Freshman class. If your students are looking at competitive schools, now is your chance!

With schools potentially being online next fall, many incoming freshmen are considering taking a gap year. Enrollment rates have remained relatively normal but with changing policies and more schools declaring online instruction this fall, this is likely to change. US citizens are currently unable to travel to most countries so gap year students will have to look to unique opportunities to grow from home. We encourage gap year students to take this time to pursue research opportunities, virtual internships or gain work experience, if possible.

With the implementation of test-optional policies, more schools are relying heavily on the impact of personal statements, supplementary essays and letters of recommendation. The Common App has even added a new question related to COVID-19 and its impacts on education: “Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.” Click here to learn more about if and how to answer this question. 

Students can still stand out throughout high school.  So far, we’ve seen students jumping into virtual internships & camps this summer.  This fall, it will be key to excel in academics and extracurriculars.  

Excel in Hybrid/Online Learning

While transitioning to an online or hybrid learning environment can be daunting, there are many ways your student can structure his or her academics and day-to-day life in order to find immense success and balance.

Short Term Benefits

  • Acceleration: Being able to self-learn helps your student get ahead and build depth of expertise in subjects that your student might not be able to access in a classroom. A wonderful option for self-learning is online courses that can be taken on platforms such as Coursera and Udemy.
  • Breadth: The ability to study more subjects at the same level and dive into other topics that your student has been wanting to explore is now accessible.
  • The holistic benefits: Your student has the opportunity to showcase your curiosity and stand out quickly

Long Term Benefits

  • Self-study lets you thrive and prepare for college where learning is more independent 
  • Become self-aware about your own learning style – are you a visual learner? Or an auditory learner? Or maybe you are a physical learner!
  • Self-study drives a growth mindset: the education system is just a guideline
  • Self-study makes you more entrepreneurial and confident in how you approach opportunities

How to Be Successful Learning Online

  • Help your student create a routine and more importantly, hold them accountable to it
  • Make sure your student takes breaks outside or has lunch with friends! It’s easy to spend the entire day inside doing work but fresh air and even quick physical activity keep your student and their brain healthy and refreshed

Resources for Getting Ahead

Ways to Boost Extracurriculars Online

As mentioned before, the importance of standardized testing may be in decline, but aspects of your student’s application such as the essay and extracurricular activities weigh more than normal. Now is the optimal time for students to demonstrate their leadership skills, move club/organization meetings online, plan ahead, and adapt digitally! It is critical for students to upskill to remain at the top of the application pool. Practice competitive activities such as debate, coding, MUN negotiations, coding, and more. 

If your student isn’t yet involved in extracurricular activities, now is the ideal time to dive in! We encourage students to: 

  • Join an online interest group  – move beyond activities just for high school students and pursue activities unique students their age
  • Volunteer online – utilize skills you are hoping to build (i.e. graphic design) for nonprofits who need it
  • Participate or start in online conferences – for example: digital hackathons and virtual competitions
  • Design your own research  – conduct your own research remotely with guidance from a professor
  • Write prolifically – get your name out there!  Enter essay competitions, start a blog, write for your local paper, etc
  • Work a job or internship – Contact dream companies to see if they have remote internships.  Set up conversations to learn more 

There are countless opportunities for students to get involved and level up during this time of social distancing and virtual learning. The internet is an incredible tool for students to utilize when it comes to discovering their passions and getting involved! If your student already has a strong extracurricular profile, now is a good time to scale it up and recruit peers to help grow the initiative

How Crimson Can Support

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company specializing in helping students across the globe gain entry to some of the world’s most competitive universities including the Ivy League, Oxford, and Cambridge.

Our holistic approach provides support across all areas of the US and UK application processes including everything from best-fit university selection, standardized test tutoring to extracurricular mentoring, and personal essay support.

To speak with a Crimson Advisor about how your student can adapt to hybrid learning and get ahead this coming school year, schedule a complimentary consultation here.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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