In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors haven’t been able to experience a lot of what marks the end of high school – proms, games, banquets, assemblies ...
There have also been changes to how students are preparing for college.
“They are probably the fiercest advocates for wanting to come back,” said Amanda Escheman, the senior seminar teacher at Marysville High School. “They feel like they’ve missed out on everything.”
She said the students feel like they didn’t get as much help.
“They said they feel like they got less help and weren’t pushed as much to apply for scholarships and feel like they’re missing out on guidance,” Escheman said.
She said, however, students have strived to overcome that and counselors have been offering services virtually.
“The kids in my class get that help,” Escheman said. “... (Students) are calling counselors, emailing teachers for help. They’ve been self-advocating this year.
“It’s hard, normally they would be in class, I would help with essay prompts – that instant help is not there. There’s a little bit of lag time (if they email questions).”
Tina Tayloe, a River Valley High School counselor, said, generally, students would take the SAT in the spring of their junior year of high school, however, some schools have excused them because students weren’t able to take the test in person.
Escheman said advanced placement tests have also been modified.
“A good percentage (of students) do community college and then with the Promise Grant that has been happening, they get the first two years free if they complete the FAFSA,” Tayloe said.
She said she expects a number of students will go to community college and she’s seen about the same amount going to four-year schools amid the pandemic.
Escheman said she has a handful of students who have decided that if college was going to be fully online, they would do something else – for example, some are going to trade schools, going into the military or going to a junior college instead of a four-year.
“We just continue to educate students on those links (such as where to find information on colleges and applications) and the deadlines,” Tayloe said. “We do a lot of Google Meets with them, or Zoom meetings, so students can make an appointment … All of the counselors have their own Google Classroom so we can post information and keep them informed.”
Esheman said counselors at the high school are also utilizing Google Classroom so students can find information on things like the FAFSA, virtual workshops or applying to junior colleges.
“Our counselors are doing a marvelous job,” she said. “... They try to do everything they would in person in a virtual format. It’s not a perfect system, (but) our counselors do a wonderful time. I know that a lot of colleges offer help to students who are having a hard time.”
Escheman said amid distance learning, speakers have also been able to talk to students virtually.
“We had a great opportunity this year, we normally don’t get a lot of college speakers to come (to the classroom),” Escheman said. “This year, my students were able to actually talk to like 15 different schools that they were able to sit in on and talk to counselors and ask questions and get a feel for the (school).”
Jeremy Brown, dean of student success and institutional effectiveness at Yuba College, said they’re still offering some in-person support – such as help with registration and applications.
“(We’re) working closer with high school districts to do outreach and get to students and help,” Brown said.
He said there are also fully online services with student peers and staff to help with the process as well.
“We’re seeing a lot of students who are waiting it out to see if we come back to campus fully,” Brown said. “We’ve seen a decline in new student enrollment.”
He said the college is hoping to offer more in-person classes and services soon but it depends on the COVID-19 situation.
As far as the online application, he said they have tried to clean up the process, provide information upfront and more.
Brown said people can access the student services section of the Yuba College website to learn more about how to access services – yc.yccd.edu/.
“I would just like to let students know that we are here, we want to help them succeed and our faculty and staff are eager to work with them,” Brown said.