Pandemic Changes College Applications for Seniors

Every year much of the Dimond Senior population is placed in a unique position: How do you get into college?

With the ever-present reality of the Coronavirus looming over Alaska, and the U.S.’s, student population, finding college application and scholarship opportunities can be a daunting task.

Ardian Balazhi, a Dimond Senior who is currently searching for college and scholarship opportunities said, “I have talked with my counselor about applying to college. I didn’t use any of ASD or Dimond resources for scholarships.”

An inevitable problem, especially when seniors attempt to find scholarships or financial aid for college, is the difficulty many will face when actually attempting to find large amounts of in-state scholarships to apply to.

Kimberly Lauwers, the Dimond High Career Resource Advisor, may have at least a partial solution to that problem. 

The Career Resource Center, or CRC, has often been the first place many Dimond students begin looking not only for college opportunities and monetary aid, but also for employment and ways to begin a career after graduation.

However, with the pandemic hitting Alaska hard in 2020, many of Dimond’s student services have had to change rapidly.

Lauwers said, “Well, you know obviously not to be able to meet with me face to face or to just be able to walk in the office. I’ve have lots of students who just come in and ask a quick question, you know that they don’t have to make an appointment to see their counselor.

“Counselors are usually pretty busy and they love the fact that I’m available, like I said my door’s open, you don’t have to make an appointment.”

The CRC, however, does not baby students who come for help, but rather helps them with the process and sets them up to make decisions and complete applications on their own.

Lauwers said, “You can actually just walk into the office and say, ‘Hey, I’m having this problem with my FAFSA and I don’t know how to fix it.’

“And then sometimes it’s just making a phone call, and so I’ll start making a phone call then hand the phone over to them, you know just making that first step.”

However, it’s not just the process of getting help for colleges that has changed. 

Most noticeably, almost no colleges and universities are requiring students to submit either SAT or ACT standardized test scores.

Balazhi said, “Most [colleges] are not requiring it this year due to COVID-19 complications,” and that he had not personally seen any college or university applications requiring test scores.

The CRC has also been dealing with the new, if somewhat lighter, restrictions for college applications, as Lauwers said, “I feel like it’s definitely because of Covid-19 that’s going on, in terms of kids having access [to the SAT and ACT], so I’m kind of grateful for that really, because whether your testing site got shut down, there’s so much going on.”

To keep up with all the new information with an ever-changing college application process, Lauwers has turned to social media, namely Twitter, to keep students informed.

“It’s up, so if you go onto my page, it’s Career Resource Center, I think it might be under ‘Students,’” Lauwers said, and added, “I’ve got the letter of recommendation which I think Seniors really need to get on that.

“Now sometimes teachers and counselors will take it without that, but a lot of times they’ll want to know more.”

Lauwers’ website, Twitter account and list of available scholarships can be accessed via the Dimond website through “Students and Parents,”  and then by clicking on “Career Resource Center.”

Most college or job-related information can be found under the “FinancialAid/ Scholarships/ FAFSA” or “Jobs” menus respectively.