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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lessons From a Hurricane for High School Seniors

Hurricane Sandy couldn’t have come at a worse time for college students planning to apply for early admission/early decision (EA/ED). Application deadlines are typically either November 1 or November 15, depending on the college. When the hurricane hit on October 29 it left millions without power and with damaged or destroyed homes. Over a week later nearly a million homes are still without electricity.
That left many students scrambling. Those who waited until the last minute were simply unable to complete the EA/ED application requirements. Fortunately, many schools were understanding and extended their deadlines.  Boston College and Carnegie Mellon were among those who said they would be flexible for those students affected by the storm.  Dartmouth extended their deadline to November 10 and Bryn Mawr, Colorado College and others are giving students until November 15. Students are encouraged to check school websites if they were affected by the storm for information about extensions.

So, what are the lessons from Hurricane Sandy for students applying to college?

  • Plan ahead. While it is hard to plan for a natural disaster, it is not difficult to plan for the unexpected. Be sure to have a back-up (even two!) of all college materials. Use a USB stick, an external hard drive, the cloud, or simply email your essays and college application materials to yourself, so you can access what you need from any computer.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Yes, senior year is super busy. You've got a lot going on. Set an artificial deadline for yourself to allow for some "wiggle room". If XYZ College has an application deadline of January 1, put that date out of your mind and tell yourself it is due December 1. It's a little like virtual reality, but it works.
  • Communicate with your chosen school. In the event of an unforeseen circumstance (natural disaster, death in the family, debilitating illness, etc.), contact your chosen schools as quickly as possible if you think you may not be able to make their deadlines. Admissions counselors are people too. Talk to them to see if you can work out an agreement.
Plan for the unexpected...that's the life lesson from this hurricane.