High School Students & COVID-19

A Response –

Covid/College Concerns –

Should the high school Class of 2020 opt out of starting college this fall?

Credit to Author Kristie Beck, Savvy Strategies & for reading my mind.

There is an article on Medium that has gone viral, suggesting that the graduating high school seniors should just “don’t” go to college this fall. Wowza, did that article cause a stir – nationally!! Here’s my take, which is a mix of professional knowledge/experience and personal opinion/experience.

First, the author is right in thinking that this fall may be far from normal. Will there be big sporting events? Personally, I think that’s doubtful. Will there be in-person classes? No one can say right now. It’s likely not to be a typical fall semester.

Second, the author is very wrong in thinking that “if they accepted you once, they’ll accept you again.” If you’ve already paid a deposit at a college and then decide not to go, you lose that deposit…and a lot of goodwill. I’d not suggest applying to that school again next year.

Third, the author suggests a gap year? I’m a big big fan of gap years, but deferring for a gap year requires the permission of the school, and they are already being verrrry judicious in granting those. If you don’t already have a gap year planned and documented, I think any graduating senior will have a challenge ahead in seeking a deferral. Colleges need students.

Fourth, wasn’t this application process so much fun? If you can’t defer acceptance for a year, then your only option would be to just withdraw, and you get the joy of going through the whole application process again next year. Yikes. No.

So, I think we teach these graduating seniors/rising college freshmen that life is rough sometimes, and when it is, we put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. This will not be a typical fall, for sure. But it’s not a typical spring right now for high school or college seniors. (Or juniors, for that matter. Juniors are trying to get ready to apply to colleges when admission offices are closed, campuses are closed, and SAT/ACT/AP tests are an ongoing train wreck.) It’s strange everywhere, for everyone. Most of us don’t have the option to just “don’t” on the things that are off the rails right now, and I wouldn’t want to tell these kids any different.

They got through the admissions process, got accepted, and made their decisions. They might not get the first semester experience they’d expected, but that’s how it goes sometimes. 🤷🏼‍♀️ None of us is entitled to the experience we expected, ever.

I would say to these graduating seniors: It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to require you to be flexible, patient, and diligent. But there are better days ahead, and you’ll be on campus to watch your chosen school rise up out of the chaos and embrace life and joy. You want to be a part of that.

These hard days? We’re all in them. Life will be hard sometimes, so this is good training for the rest of your life. Stick with it, come what may. You didn’t come this far to only come this far. Onward!


As I sit here this morning fielding emails, texts and calls from former students, parents and my own regarding Coronovirus and college administration’s decisions, I feel compelled to share my own thoughts on how we should (in my opinion) be handling this with students. What reaction or behavior are we modeling?

This is a great lesson on adaptability, one that if handled properly will serve our young adults well in the future. You have to learn to roll with what life throws at you. If their schools send them home, they make the best of it and go online for as long as they have to. It is okay to sympathize and agree with them that the loss of some of their college “social” experience may be put on hold for a bit or lost in the case of graduating seniors; that stinks but it’ll be ok. Kids often mimic how they see the adults around them react to things. If you act like it’s the end of the world, they are also going to. Be calm, be sensitive and be rational in your words and decisions.

And … of course WASH YOUR HANDS!!


I asked a large group of my students grades 9-11 what was the biggest stressor in their lives and the thing that most affects their mental health. The most popular answer, by far, was school –– homework, grades, exams, expectations, lack of time.

I believe we can all find ways as parents and myself as a professional college consultant, to help ease this stress while still guiding students to reach for big life goals.

My list of suggestions so far including some that I can guide my families to take advantage of and a few I will advocate for in our local school system. Check it out and let me know your thoughts on this subject.

For schools:

One “test free week” a quarter

One “homework free” week per quarter

No homework or projects during breaks or vacations!

Calendars to avoid overlapping tests.

My suggestions for students:

Involvement in the Community – a project they are passionate about.

Prayer, Yoga, Meditation, etc – any form of daily relaxation

Reflection Journaling – putting their thoughts & feelings to paper (not text)

Time each evening WITHOUT their cell phone (or Netflix) – spending time with the family or any part of it talking about NON academic related thoughts.

Let me know what you think and what you’d add to these lists.

In this Together, Carrie

Freshman Fall

To All of my College Freshman Parents and Students —

Many of you will be celebrating your students’ successes (and many of those were ones who struggled at first and bounced back). Still, some of your students are disappointed to get their first B, others are getting their first C (or lower) and may also have dropped a course. Success can be defined in many ways – sometimes earning a C is worth a celebration because of the effort and grit it took to pull the grade up from a bad start.

It is important to help your student develop a sense of perspective if he/she hasn’t earned the desired grades. The first semester transition is a challenge for many students and rougher on some. Please remind your students that this is the first of what for most will be eight semesters of college. Ultimately, first term will play a smaller and smaller role in their overall academic record.

If your students’ feel they could have done better, try to help them focus 🎯 on what they learned about themselves as college students in this first semester. It might be that your students’ can identify mistakes made and create a plan to avoid them in the future. A plan is important‼ – academic success should not be a New Year’s resolution, but something your student follows up on day by day.
If your student doesn’t really know what they could have done differently to improve their grades, an academic advisor may be able to help. In addition, taking advantage of all the resources available through the college’s Teaching Center (including Study Skills workshops, free tutoring by appointment, study edge etc.) can also help. It’s important to start utilizing these resources at the beginning of the term 📢

Most students learn how to be more effective each semester. They tend to figure out which study approaches work better for which classes, they get better at budgeting their time, they get better at recognizing early when a class is going to give them trouble, or if they are perhaps pursuing a field that does not engage them or does not play to their strengths. Please encourage your students to see this semester as part of the process of them becoming successful college students and, ultimately, graduates. They got into college because they were smart and capable, but they will have to adapt and try new strategies and pathways in order to achieve success.

Finally, I always say and remind students, it doesn’t matter where you start – only where you finish 🎉

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas 🎅

Soar 2 Success Consulting on FB

Reflection Journal

Over the past few years, I have developed a theory that teaching students to reflect makes them more thoughtful and engaged citizens. In addition, there are so many benefits for them and the college admissions process. See my teaching notes below. Start reflecting!

Reflection Journal Podcast

Student Reflection – is to understand the world around you and to be in touch w/your emotional connection to it and your experiences. In an age of distractions, this is lost many times & to become good at reflecting, it must be intentional and consistent.

  • Get a Journal or Notebook.
  • Start anytime 8-11th grade.
  • Write a short journal entry for each experience you have (min paragraph or even bullet points); volunteer event, club meeting/event, internship, travel, summer experience, etc.

Sample Journal Page:

Today I volunteered at the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. My friends and I formed a team, Team Cure and we walked all day & night to represent the long fight for a cancer patient and the long journey for the family and people that care for them. I met several kids my age who were walking for their Mom’s they lost. I can’t imagine. It was overall a celebration of life but sad too. I really want to get more involved in this organization. We raised over $5000 for this event by selling raffle tickets to win a gift card tree.

  • Add a photo (from phone or social media), flyer or news clipping related to event.
  • Assists in development of essays; for school English courses, AP test DBQ college essays, scholarship essays, etc.
  • Develops skills needed in college for coursework, tests w/prompts, law/med school, etc.
  • Assists in the development of college application resume – keeps track of involvement and makes it easier to describe.
  • Gift to look back on later in life.


It’s Senior Year – NOW what!?

studente medicina

It’s that time of year, high school students are starting to get in the swing of things and tests have begun … and the texts and calls are coming in for help. For seniors however, it’s a much more anxiety-filled time, a time when in the past was filled with fun, Friday night football and relaxing from the pressures of year’s past as far as academics were concerned. Not any more, sadly for senior students wanting to attend State Flagship Universities or top out-of-state (OOS) schools the anxiety for both students and parents is at an all-time high.

In an effort to combat the above-mentioned anxiety, I try very hard to begin the college “admissions” prep process as early as 9th grade, with pieces of the moving parts added each year, throughout the year. Partnering and taking much of the stress off of the family, by advising on coursework, extracurricular, community service and the entire application process is just part of the Soar 2 Success winning formula.

Here are some ways your senior can combat stress this senior year:

  • DO NOT procrastinate the college application prep process; there are steps.
  • DO NOT apply to colleges you would never attend; location, finances, low acceptance probability.
  • DO NOT join a bunch of clubs/honors societies senior year, continue with commitments but don’t add new ones. Reality is admissions sees right through it, adding activities just to build a resume – its too late! P.S. There are some exceptions.
  • DO NOT stack on 5-8 AP courses unless you’ve been counseled to do so for specific University admissions (competitiveness).
  • DO spend time with friends!
  • DO attend your high school sporting events and special events!
  • DO Yoga or Meditation or a Faith-based study!
  • DO take a vacation or stay-cation with your family!
  • DO continue to Volunteer EVEN if you do NOT need the hours!
  • DO manage & prioritize Homework & Studying – DO NOT CRAM!
  • DO set up a college application checklist and work through it at a steady pace. All should be complete before due dates (Nov 1 for most colleges – go to their websites for application deadlines – ED, EA, RD or rolling)




College Admissions Advising

I had been waiting to do a post until I let all of the feelings of disappointment from the college admissions scandal settle. I love what I do and am proud to be part of the IEC community. It really saddened me to learn that Mr Singer had taken advantage of “fear” for his own greedy gain. Do the parents have responsibility in this mess – yes, I believe so. However, I do understand that their fear and love for their children led to these horrible decisions. I meet with parents regularly who are so fearful of the competitiveness of college admissions today and I can tell you, the anxiety is high and VERY real.

So, all this said, I feel the best way I can help amongst all the confusion and fear, besides being “your” choice as a guidance professional in the coming years, is to provide “what to look for in an IEC”.

What to look for in a legitimate IEC (Independent Educational Consultant):

– “Active” member of a professional organization (NACAC, SACAC, IECA, etc)

– Attends continuing education courses and special regional learning events

– Does a min of 6 college campus visits each year w/administration (boots on the ground)

– Has a contract/agreement that states that all collected fees are towards services rendered

-Agreement should also state that the IEC cannot guarantee admissions to any college nor can they guarantee success in any institution

– Hourly rates are in writing and should range between $80-$350 per hour depending on the experience level of the IEC and the type of services the student needs

Finally, let me assure you, I have never and will never give or take funds for admissions favors. An excellent IEC will have a high admit rate, based on experience and formulas that they have developed over time.

I look forward to the 2019-20 admissions cycle and to the “scandal” news going away so that we can all move forward together doing what we love —>guiding students to their perfect “fit” next step.