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High reaching seniors battle COVID hinderances

Sign on campus points toward different colleges. Photo by Maya Bussinger

College-bound seniors have varied confidence about how prepared they will be for college by graduation in light of changes and cancellations of regular college-preparatory events.

Some seniors expressed their belief that the cancellation of extracurricular activities is affecting their ability to enhance their applications for scholarships.

“I have been very stressed about preparing and getting into college,” said Senior Cade Torgerson. “I haven’t been able to do any extracurricular activities during quarantine for scholarship applications as everything has been shut down.

Difficulty and confusion with the sudden switch to distance learning both at the end of last year and the beginning of this year set all students back in their classes. Fellow Senior Connor McGehee added to Torgerson’s worry of being unprepared in relation to the educational setbacks.

“With the cancellation of events and with online classes, I definitely feel like we are behind in classes. Some of my classes are still going over review work, and we are over half way done with the first semester,” said McGehee. “It’s hard, these teachers are trying so hard, and they are all stretched to the max with minimal class times, but you can only have so much homework because a lot of things have to be taught to you by a teacher and you can’t just read them out of a book.”

Bear River’s hybrid schedule has some seniors feeling overwhelmed with the homework that makes up for the lack of time in a classroom. Noah Dunhower, also a senior, said that some of his peers are unable to direct their attention to college preparation with the amount of school work assigned.

“I think the problem that a lot of seniors are facing is the fact that some teachers are assigning too much in a short period of time, instead of letting us focus on college prep,” he said. “Many of us feel that the assignments we’ve gotten so far have been somewhat filler, not necessarily information or course material that will be useful to us. When we start running out of time to deal with applications because of filler work, that’s when it starts to get more stressful.”

Along with the event cancellation difficulty and student stress, COVID-19 has changed the college requirements drastically. Councelor Mary Buhr included her input on some of the adjustments. 

“For several months, testing sites were not allowed to give the SAT/ACT due to physical distancing protocols and limits on the number of students who could gather in one place. This created inequality because some students could take the SAT/ACT at their school and others couldn’t,” said Buhr. “If a student has taken the SAT/ACT and wants to submit their scores, the universities will use those scores to determine placement in classes… but these scores will not be considered when the college is deciding whether or not to admit the student. In addition, the NCAA has decided not to require SAT/ACT scores this year either.”

Buhr added that despite these changes, it is still very important for seniors to add volunteer hours to their college applications. 

 “Though COVID has affected students’ opportunities for volunteer hours, the idea behind this requirement is to see what students do with the time they have when they are not doing school-related things,” she said. “Even though our gatherings are limited, this provides a great opportunity to be creative in looking for virtual ways to volunteer.”

Even with the difficulties, certain seniors feel prepared for college. Senior Tanner Roberts noted his surprise at how prepared he feels and how some COVID setbacks have actually helped ready him for college.

“I feel a lot more prepared for college than expected,” he said. “I fully expected it to be a very difficult road with many extra obstacles in the way because of it. However, I’m very surprised at how prepared and ready I have become because of the shutdowns. I’ve been able to help people more than ever during quarantine. Doing community service was a hobby of mine that I did the most during the shutdown. It helped me become more prepared and provided me with an extra boost to help in any future scholarship opportunities.”

McGehee added to Roberts’ positive outlook as he has been able to participate in Future Farmers of America (FFA) over the course of quarantine.

“I have been able to help keep up with FFA events and still attend Guide Dog meetings throughout quarantine,” he said. “FFA has done a Zoom State Competition for Parliamentary Procedure that I got to be a part of. We also did a Drive-Through Ice Cream Social and a Zoom meeting with fun games.”

Dunhower expressed his enthusiasm for graduating and hope for a bright future.

“I actually look forward to graduating more since I’d really prefer to do something new instead of waiting while our events are called off,” Dunhower said. “I’ll miss high school band and choir, but at this point I’m looking forward to the future after finishing this year off as best I can.”

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High reaching seniors battle COVID hinderances