Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis leaves students with college aspirations in limbo

Experts say students can use hiatus to get ahead in other areas

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – Uncertainty surrounding the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has created a difficult situation for high school students who have upcoming college aspirations.

Many of those students are in their make-or-break years of high school, and the current situation is leaving them in limbo.

Michigan residents are anticipating an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the next few days that will end the school year in the state. But she insisted Tuesday that she hasn’t yet made a decision.

UPDATE -- March 31, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 7,615; Death toll rises to 259

Whitmer said an announcement will come this week.

“I know people are anxious,” Whitmer said. “Parents, students, teachers -- we have 1.5 million kids in Michigan who aren’t in school.”

There’s a common saying that your junior year of high school gets you into college and your senior year keeps you there. But when students are home doing enrichment work that doesn’t count toward their grades, how are they supposed to keep their college quests on track?

Carly Schultz, a junior at Rochester Adams High School in Rochester Hills, said she had a 4.1 GPA as of her last day of school in mid-March. But now, her official academics remain in flux.

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“We’ve seen that some schools are not taking test scores,” Schultz said.

She and her mother said they have no idea how to continue making gains to go to college.

“We had a list,” her mother, Stephanie Schultz, said. “We had an idea of everything she needed. That’s all up in the air (now).”

Deborah Sleven, the counselor at University Prep in Southfield, sent out guidance Tuesday to students -- specifically juniors -- explaining that not all is lost.

“Juniors can be working on their SAT test prep,” Sleven said. “By doing test prep, they are working English and Math -- the strands they need to work on.”

For any student building grades to go to college, the work during this hiatus could catapult them because they have an opportunity to build college entrance test scores that will likely count for even more.

READ: Experts project aggressive social distancing could drastically reduce Michigan COVID-19 cases by May

While the enrichment work they’re doing now might not count toward an actual grade, it can count more given the competitive environment of college entrance, Sleven said.

“As a counselor, when I’m writing my recommendation, that’s what I will write about,” Sleven said.

Now is the time to build a scholarship database and start really looking for scholarship opportunities, experts said. There’s now more time to do many of the things that often got lost in the shuffle due to homework, sports and community projects.

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