High schools, colleges scramble to help students choose an education

High schools, colleges scramble to help students choose an education

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) -Facing the next steps after high school can be scary enough for young people. Throw in a global pandemic, and the future gets even more complicated.

And high school guidance counselors - usually the biggest source of help when it comes to picking a college - find themselves challenged to stay in touch with high school seniors.

“We just are not getting enough face time with them,” Meghan Caddick, a guidance counselor at Indian River high school, told 7 News.

“We reach out virtually, but as a counselor, it’s all about making connections, and it’s really hard to do that electronically,” she said.

High school counselors aren’t alone. College admissions offices see the challenge too. There’s no more traveling to high schools, or to higher-education nights where several colleges set up in one place and meet with high schoolers. Now it’s almost 100-percent virtual.

“Sometimes the last thing they (students) want to do during the day or even in the evening, when we offer them in the evening, is jump on the computer again,” said Erica Kaiser, SUNY Potsdam’s Assistant Director of Admissions.

“So it’s certainly been challenging trying to get those students to register and meet with us.”

At Watertown high school, it’s much the same story. Not enough face time.

“That’s been really heartbreaking in a way, for school counselors who just want to make sure kids are thriving,” said Julie Houghmaster, a counselor at Watertown high.

But if there’s any silver lining, Houghmaster says we’re in what she calls a “student market” - colleges need students and many are not requiring SAT scores.

“Students are finding that they’re getting into colleges that maybe they weren’t sure that they would be a shoe-in,” Houghmaster said.

Both Caddick and Houghmaster say the college process alone has been a challenge, but the unknowns COVID-19 has forced students to face about their future makes it harder.

Both say their phones are on, and emails are open if any parent or student needs help.

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