Grady offers college preparation despite COVID-19 pandemic


Courtesy of Anna Winer

Jim Landers, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at The University of Alabama, talked to students last fall at the College Career Center (CCC). Because of online school, the CCC is holding virtual college visits, so students are still able to learn more about different schools.

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on students across the nation. Some have lost family members; some are facing economic crises, and for others, isolation has taken a toll on their mental health.

A letter written and signed by over 300 College Admissions Officers published in the Washington Post acknowledged the preceding sentiments. The letter, “What We Care about in this Time of Crisis,” says, “We are keenly aware that students across the country and the world are experiencing many uncertainties and challenges. We primarily wish to underscore our commitment to equity, and to encourage in students self-care, balance, meaningful learning and care for others.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic, high school students are dealing with stress as the pandemic has disrupted the balance of academic rigor and handfuls of extracurriculars.

“Extracurriculars are interesting because of the way timing takes place,” senior Richard Aytch said. “I work with G3 Robotics, and we have been operating online. This makes the work a bit more difficult because most of our work has been in a physical environment.”

Whether it’s an unstable internet connection or difficulty adapting to online learning, this school year has presented challenges that were non existent before. However, the Grady community is working to adapt to this new environment.

“I feel like that, in a way, colleges are going to know that during this time they [students] weren’t in school, and there is going to be a gap in clubs and activities,” Abby Poirier, college adviser said. “I do see this gap, especially with next year’s seniors.”

While Poirier recognizes the break in students’ normal routines, she still emphasizes that grades will continue to be significant.

“Grades are still as important, if not more important than ever, because schools want to see how well you were able to adapt,” Poirier said. “They still want to see an upward turn in your grades and on your transcript. Focusing on your grades is still going to be really important right now.”

Amber Jones, Grady’s other college adviser, stresses the importance of helping students create a steady post-grad plan, whether they see college in their future or not.

“That’s their last year in high school, they’re going to go off into the world and you’re not going to always have these resources like college advisers or a counselor,” Jones said. “We’re here to support them. For seniors, I feel like our focus is really supporting them and making sure they have a plan, whatever that plan may be, and making sure they prepare for when they graduate for life after high school.”

While the current circumstances are far from ordinary, Jones highlights how critical it is for students to take advantage of Grady’s resources during the college process.

“For sophomores and juniors, it’s more about researching schools and keeping your grades up,” Jones said. “Whereas senior year, it’s time to start working. It’s definitely time to start cracking down and really utilizing the resources that Grady offers while you still have them. I think that’s really important.”

One of the resources mentioned by Poirier and Jones is Grady’s College and Career Center (CCC). Students can meet and connect with college representatives in a welcoming environment

“The CCC is a parent-run organization at Grady,” Poirier said. “They put on so many well put together visits with representatives from colleges, and they’re doing specific Grady webinars and info sessions. That’s honestly one of the best resources.”

Grady parent Anna Winer has been volunteering at the CCC for eight years.

“I volunteer in the CCC because I really enjoy working with high school students, particularly on their college essays,” Winer said. “I love helping them take an essay from good to great. When the CCC was started, about twelve years ago, Grady didn’t have any college advisers, and the guidance counselors were really slammed, so the CCC started as a way to help the guidance counselors by scheduling college visits.”

With the growth of the CCC over the years, services have expanded.

“Our role quickly expanded to help walk students through the entire college process, just like we would for our own kids,” Winer said. “Our mission has also changed as the college advisers arrived. In a normal year, we try to schedule events, such as workshops and programs with recent Grady graduates who can talk to current seniors about college life and more. We’ve also worked to bring more attention to careers that don’t require a college degree.”

Currently, because of the pandemic, the CCC is holding virtual college visits with representatives from a wide range of schools, allowing students to learn more information and ask questions about the schools.
Winer has a main piece of advice for any high schooler worried about the effects of Covid-19 on the college process.

“Students should not worry that there seems to be a sudden decrease in their extracurricular activities — that is a sign of the times and will not reflect poorly on the student,” Winer said. “Still, many clubs and organizations may have ways to participate virtually, so try to find creative ways to continue to be as involved as you can with your school and community.”