How To Write About Coronavirus In Your College Essays

Recorded Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 11:00 PM

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About this livestream


Learn how to approach writing COVID-related issues in your college essays, and how best to incorporate the effect that the coronavirus has had on your life in your college applications.

Giebien Na will explain to you all the factors you need to consider in helping you decide whether you should write about COVID. He will help you look at your essays from the lens of an undergraduate admissions officer and share his take on the implications of using COVID in any of your college essays.

Finally, he’ll open up the floor for a Q&A session, where he’ll answer any and all questions about writing about COVID in your apps.

Video Transcript


Tonight we'll be discussing writing about COVID in your college essays. But really, the presentation will be a little bit more nuanced. And that will be more about how to incorporate COVID into your general college application, which admittedly, the college essays are a very large part of, but we'll also be looking at some ways to think about incorporating COVID. Even if they don't end up being in your college essays. Just a couple of quick notes, before we really get started, um, the chat box that you see there is available for any questions. And they'll come to me directly. And that will be available for you just at any time during the presentation. So feel free to, you know, jump in with any questions that you have over the course of the presentation. And if those are germane or relevant to the section that I'm talking about, I'll be more than happy to answer that question within that context, if they're a little bit more tangential. And then I may not acknowledge it in the moment, but we will have a q&a session at the end. So I'll be sure to follow that away and return to the q&a section.

Also, keep in mind that there is a 13 second lag on this live stream. So don't worry if you know, you asked me a question, and you don't hear me respond to it immediately. Even if I did immediately respond to it again, take you 30 seconds on your end to start hearing that response to that question. There is the possibility, of course that I just didn't see the question in the first place, probably because I was too busy listening to myself talk. But I do promise that I will see any and all questions eventually, even if it takes me.

So yeah, let's go ahead and get started. Just a couple quick things about myself. I graduated from Williams College in June 2020. So right in the middle of the COVID. I don't want to say COVID air, but the COVID period, I guess, obviously not the most ideal set of circumstances to graduate in. But you know, we have to play the hand that we're we're dealt, and I personally think is very lucky for me to graduate when I did. I've also been with college one since pretty much the moment I became a college freshman, started off writing, or helping students write college essays. And I've come full circle. So let's go ahead and get started. Here's the kind of overview for what we're going to look at today.

And, as you can see, I'm going to take a relatively strong position on how we should approach COVID, which is that we probably shouldn't. And we'll qualify that position a little bit. But the reason I make it so clear, you know, I'll give you my thesis right here in just a Singapore points that I really do think it's important for us not to get carried away, potentially with using COVID as a topic in our essays. After that, we'll go to you know, some of you might think, Hey, you know, gave us a little bit office game, I'm not really sure that I am convinced by that first bullet. If you do end up writing about COVID, we'll have a couple of different strategies for you to think about to actually go through that and execute as well as you can, then we'll talk about the COVID specific plant. So there is no an actual explicit place in your applications, we have licensed to talk about COVID. And then if it turns out that COVID doesn't really have a space in any of those parts of your application, we'll spend just the briefest discussions of thinking about well, where else can we incorporate COVID to be able to quantify the impact that it's had on you, and your overall college applications.

Okay, so starting with that first point. So this is where I, I guess, try and convince you that COVID is a difficult topic to be writing about. Are you obviously COVID is a tempting essay topic. But the circumstances that make that true, right, which is that code is kind of all reaching. It's disrupted all of our lives in very significant fashion. But they'll all there is key, it's it's disrupted all of our lives. And that's the biggest thing that in a college essay is going to make this very difficult for you. Because while your individual experiences are very real, they're significant. And no one's taking that away from you. Everybody is going through, right, everybody collectively is going through a very similar set of have struggles. And so you run the risk, when you're writing about COVID of kind of falling in with a huge crowd that's also writing about, basically, you know, the same set of experiences.


And so the limitations of a COVID essay on top of that, bragging about COVID really doesn't set you up to view a full portrait of yourself. What happens is that if you read about COVID, you're pretty much limited to the COVID Like, right, which as long as it feels for us right now is really limited to only the events of January 2020. and beyond. And even that is very generous timeline. Schools, you know, really only started, we're in the United States, we really only started being impacted in our daily lives by COVID, maybe like March, April. So it really curtails the amount of time that you can talk about yourself as a person. And the problem with that is that you don't get to explain your life arc, right, the personal statement is supposed to review the big picture of who you are. And barring that, you know, your personal statement.

Also, the idea is to show how you've grown or evolves of their years of who you are as a person, six months, I get a little bit more than six months, nine months of a significant factor in your life, over the last year isn't going to be able to offer you a good platform to explain that. Similarly, if you've struggled in high school, or your grades aren't as good as you want, right, COVID isn't really in the beginning explanation. Because your grades are evaluated on four years of performance, and COVID obviously wasn't a relevant factor in anything other than, you know, this last academic year.

Um, so let's go ahead and do some quick math to think about a covered essay and how it looks from the perspective of an admissions officer, and use Williams College as a case study. Because as a woman's grad, you know, I'm gonna have fun, I just have to try and fit in Williams, wherever. And however, I can do anything I do. Um, so anyways, looking at Williams, there were 10,000 applications loans last year. If you look on their website, there's 16 admissions officers, but six of them are pretty much only for financial aid, doing all the logistics of figuring out aid packages, and that kind of stuff.

So let's suppose that there's roughly, you know, 10, admissions officers, that's a lot of applications for each officer to have to go through. Right, that's 1000 applications. If an admissions officer is spending half of a 50 hour week, just reading essays, right, not going to meetings, not talking to their colleagues, about about certain students not doing the other stuff at their job, if they're just spending 25 hours reading essays, that's 100 hours of reading essays a month. But, you know, they'll spend 80% of that time on the personal statement, which is, again, a lot. So all the assumptions that I've made here, have been conserved on the conservative side, and what I mean by conservatives that I'm trying not to undersell, or I guess, exaggerate how little time admissions officers are going to spend on your essay. Even doing so, the math comes out to applications, officers have 15, less than 15 minutes to spend on each essay on average. Again, that's an average read. So some essays will have, you know, admissions officer will be able to tell exactly kind of what type of essay it is they'll stereotype it right away, maybe we'll spend five minutes on it.

Another segment will spend 30 minutes, 35 minutes if it's more interesting, and they want to spend more time on it. But 15 minutes is kind of the baseline at bigger schools. So Williams is a very small school, there's only 2000 people on a bigger schools, right, they'll have more admissions officers, but the applicant numbers will increase exponentially. So the math I think will probably be even less in your favor. And the point of that is that you have 15 minutes to make an impression on your admissions officer, who will already have read or advice on hundreds of other personal statements before they get to yours.

And so when you're working with this little room, you really want your essay to kind of stand out and immediately give your admissions officer a sense of, hey, this might be something I'm interested in this cycle of covid essay, just by virtue of human nature, if you're an admissions officer, and you just see this over and over and over again, no matter how good your essay might be, just psychologically, something's going to click in the admissions office of mine, and not good way, they're going to click and bundle it into all the other cold essays that they seem for. They're kind of going to assume that while they haven't read your essay, in particular, they've essentially already read it because what is there that a covered essay could say that they haven't already read. And so, you know, obviously, that's not to say that cover essays are just impossible. But the point is that your level of execution and pulling off a COVID essay, or COVID focused essay is going to be so high that it's going to be virtually impossible to succeed.


Okay, so just a quick thing in the q&a. So there's potentially a problem with echoes in my audio. Let me know if anyone else has a problem with that, but I'm not sure that I know quite what's going on there. So hello. Maybe that can end up fixing itself. Quick question. admissions officers are. So there's a question from Nina, who were the admissions officers on? These are the people in the colleges that are, again, reading your essays and making the decisions on, you know, who's going to get into the school? Who's going to get a letter of acceptance? Okay, cool, glad that the audio issues are fixed. But yeah, so the admissions officers are separate from like, you know, the professors or the staff of the school, they're kind of just the brands that do a solely with, you know, who gets in school and who doesn't?

Okay, um, so back to here, right. So the overall point is that, if you do the cost benefit analysis, right, there's a lot of cost. In doing the code essay of, you know, there's, there's the risk that you're just going to be immediately shuffled into this pile of other COVID essays, and not a lot of benefit, there's not an obvious payoff that you can get, and in doing so, so, it's a little hard to imagine it being worth your time. And on the other side, you know, again, from the admissions officer, officers perspective, everyone that's reading college applications, this cycle is going to have COVID in the back of their minds, right there, they're going to realize that, you know, you were impacted by it one way or another, whether you mentioned or not, it's not something that, you know, you have to be afraid that admissions officers might forget about, it is true that, you know, maybe colleges might discount your struggles with COVID relative, the others that were less fortunate in their, you know, social or financial circumstances.

But it's, that's a concern that you have, there's probably a good reason that you have that concern. In other words, it's probably a kernel of truth to that, and that you were more fortunate in your health or social or financial circumstances. And if that's the case, an essay isn't going to be able to change that perception. And if anything, you know, in trying to blow up an experience of, or with COVID, that relatively isn't as serious as some COVID experiences that other people presentation, and I could really, really backfire on you and just make you look tone deaf. Okay, so that's the overall, I guess, just the COVID stuff. But, you know, if you think that you still really do want to talk about COVID? First, you know, again, don't. But if you really are, you want to think about it as a supplemental feature. So I think the hard advice that I would give is that a, an essay that is exclusively about COVID is not something that you should do. But if you want to include COVID, there's a couple approaches that you could use to make it a factor in your essay, even if it's not the main idea.

So I call the two alternatives, the COVID, misdirection and the featuring pivot, which I think are relatively self explanatory. But only once you hear my explanation, explanation for why they're self explanatory. But anyway, so we'll start with the coping misdirection. So what happens here in this essay, is that you'll start out with COVID. But you're going to surprise the reader, basically, pull the rug out from them, arguing that the essay is actually about something completely different, a deeper theme, or just a different idea that you use COVID to just, I guess, foray into, it's almost like a little bit of a trick. And it's more difficult than it sounds, I've imagined, I say, pulling this off, but I can't know I don't have anything off the top of my head, on exactly how I would pull this off. And even if I could, again, the one issue, as we've talked about before, with the overall topic of an essay being COVID, the risk is that, you know, you'll get shuffled into the pile.

The same risk is here, especially because first impressions are so so important. And in your college applications, especially again, with only the 15 minutes that your admissions officers are working with, they have to be highly efficient as well. So they're going to be thinking very heuristically. And that when they immediately see that you start off with COVID, they might not even get to the point to realize that your essay is actually doing something else. And so that would be in some cases, a worst case scenario, right that you do the work of writing a non code essay, and yet you still get piled as a covid essay. So this is definitely a little bit more of a high risk approach. And the other one is what I call the featuring of it, which is the big thing here is you're pivoting from something that you're talking about to COVID which is that probably COVID is going to bring up the next example of how some kind of a deep material impact of something that was previously a big part of your life. And so it's not really going to be about COVID. But it will be probably a little bit along the lines of like an adversity essay, or just something meant a lot to you, and it was taken away.

Again, the point of this is that COVID is just a way for you to write this and not the idea of the asset. And that's why it's called featuring of it, you want to think of it as featuring artists on the title track. And when we know that things are getting away from you is that if the featuring artist starts taking over right and dominating the overall scene and ideas. So here COVID is not the main theme, just as the previous one. But once we establish these two things, if we think about it, you know, if well executed in the way that I'm saying the COVID portions of your essays will be largely expendable, right? He could talk about having to give up some extracurriculars without really talking about why it was COVID that made you do that. And if that's the case, again, why use COVID at all.

And as I mentioned before, you know, the first prompt, or the first alternative was a little like tricking your reader or pulling pulling the rug out there a little gimmicky, and it's questionable, whether an admissions officer is going to see that approach in the most positive light. So all things that you really want to be thinking about a little bit.


So in review, really think about using COVID in your essays, then in terms of not using them. And even the better strategies that we've just gone over for covered essay aren't going to offer any really obvious pathways at a value add or plus CV. So expected value, right? And especially sense if you really want to write about code, if you think it has a place.


Um, we have the COVID specific prompt, right, so I'll go ahead and read the prompt for you here. Community disruption, such as COVID-19, or natural disasters can have deep, long lasting impacts, you need it This space is yours to describe those impacts. Cloud does care about the effects in your health and well being safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. So there's a space that's very easy for you to talk about COVID on your applications without having to work it in to your personal statement. And, you know, especially when you have an extra prompt, intentionally or going out of your way, I guess, to write about COVID, in your personal statement, in some sense, is a lost opportunity that you could have used it to talk about something else, and just read about COVID here. So how you should approach this front is that you want to think about this not really is a genuine essay prompt. And what I mean by that is, you know, this is an optional prompt, and most times, optional prompts can feel, you know, optional, and Siri mandatory, in fact, and I would largely agree with that sentiment, actually. No, it's not the greatest thing in the world that I'm sorry, a quick question from Sean, of making it clear. Could you just tell me what you mean by that, and I'll try and fix that up for you.


But so okay, we're talking about the denim here.


Um, where was I? Yeah, so don't think of this as really similar to the optional prompts that you've come across before those things. It's basically like when a professor gives you extra credit in a class, but the class is curved. So the extra credit literally doesn't mean anything, it's just another opportunity for you to fall behind your classmates. It's the same thing here with the optional prompts is that, you know, for all these very selective schools, if other people are writing these optional prompts, that's one more data point for the colleges to consider. And one more data point that you don't have if you're not writing those, but for the covid prompt, that's not the case. And what you want to do is treat this more like an addendum, then college essay was a 250 word limit to it, which means that short and sweet is the right approach here. And the use of an addendum. What I mean by that is so if you look at law school applications, what they do is they'll give you space for optional essays, and then they'll give you an optional space for an explanatory memorandum, which very few people take, but it's just a space for you to explain, you know, extenuating circumstances, maybe for your GPA numbers, or a certain trends and it's a very factual space. And so that's how you want to think about this prompt. Um, now you don't want to take that too literally. You don't want To make it you know, just all factual, and very, I guess, you know, stiff, there's a reason again, that it's not called the denim, it's called, it's still called an essay. And we'll get into that a little bit later. But the the overall point here is that, you know, it's not going to be a space for you to go overboard talking about COVID. And most students still probably don't need to write this essay, you probably only want to write this essay in the manner that we'll see right here. So again, looking like there are a couple of issues with the PowerPoint not being clear. It looks okay to me, on my end, apologies for that, if anyone else is having problems with that, let me know.


Um, but yeah, hopefully that'll clear up in a little bit, then. But yeah, let me know if you can't see the text or anything. But I'm going through the bullet points pretty extensively. So if you can't see them, then hopefully you won't be missing out on too much.


Okay, so when to talk about or when to respond to the COVID specific prompt, you want to do it when you have a deep material impact that has when you've been materially impacted by COVID. And that's another reason again, going back to the alternatives that we had, and how to approach using COVID. In the personal statement, one of the requirements that I had mentioned, once again, you should probably only use it if you've had a deep material impact on the featuring pivot alternative. And so that's another reason why random upcoming might might just end up being a little bit redundant is because you just have space that explicitly covers those scenarios. So stuff that counts as material impact is going to include things like illness, loss of life, due to covid, economic impacts, changes in your house in your living situation, changes to your emotional or mental health. This one, I would advice a little bit of caution with just because, again, emotional and mental health are obviously you know, a big, big factor in how all how we have all experienced COVID. But you want to make sure that if you're using this space to talk about impacts your emotional mental health, it's on the same kind of level, as the as the other bullet points here. So for example, if you take my case of, you know, I graduated in the spring of 2020. And I was in my senior spring, and I didn't get any of my, you know, my senior activities, my senior week, my graduation stuff, all stuff that, you know, senior spring is supposed to be one of the most memorable times of your college experience. Not that I would know. But the fact that I missed out on all that stuff is, you know, something that people can't take away from me, it was definitely something very significant. Um, but at the end of the day, you know, even though I was you know, having a hard time, maybe being at home and not being with seeing my friends, and that was something that took a genuine toll on me, is that something that would have, you know, risen to the level of, oh, someone had a parent die, or, you know, their parents lost their jobs, and they had to move out of the house, things like that. So just make sure that again, for for the changes here emotional or mental health bullet, it's a little bit more of a gray area, it's not as obvious and so just be careful with that one. Um, okay, Valerie asked, What if you had, for example, pre existing issues, such as health conditions, which were exacerbated or made more difficult during COVID, or a family life was made difficult because your parents are essential workers? And yeah, so there's a lot of potential gray area and all of these. But yeah, I mean, that that sounds like something that would definitely make sense. As to to include has an explanatory factor of you know, this is how COVID specifically impacted me, maybe a little bit more than the average person and then talking about the, you know, the effects that it's had on you and how you were forced to adjust and adapt. But yeah, so that mean, that seems to me something that would definitely make sense. I think that question. And yeah, just the last two bullet points there extra obligations and fasten your vote is study due to internet access. So here's what not to respond to the problem. So the biggest thing is, I guess, they're all actually pretty equivalent, missed extracurricular opportunities, how your semester grades went down, because of online learning, and how you use COVID as an opportunity to roll your sleeves up and serve your community. Pretty much everything else. Again, with the grids worse, better that stuff? Again, there's a gray area there sometimes, you know, they're legitimate. They're legitimate reasons. For you to be talking about that, but if it's just that, oh, I want to online learning, and I struggle with sitting in front of a computer all day, which, you know, is definitely something that I can relate to, I hate sitting in front of the computer and, you know, trying to learn and do classes when I'm so used to, as we all are in person learning. But that's not really, you know, a good thing to be talking about, it's not something that will stand out is, you know, a struggle that's been any worse or more significant than, than anyone else had. And then this third one here, you know, going out and doing volunteer work, from the effect of code, you know, if you did more power to you, and you know, it's obviously really important work. And thank you very much for that. But, again, this is not the space to be talking about that. This prompt is not an area for you to look better for you to make yourself look good. It's really explained things that might make you look bad. And so something like this, you can always include in your extracurriculars, there's plenty of space for that, in others, parts of your application.


Only a couple questions from Fran and Gino start with friend What if depression anxiety that were pre existing, got worse with COVID isolation? What admissions officers think that this impact would be a negative commentary on that kid? Um, no, not I mean, I don't think admissions officers would find that a native contrary on the kid at all. college admissions officers are really, really understanding was with mental health. And especially right was the pandemic and everyone being in isolation. Those are things I think that people will be very understanding of. So yeah, that's not something that you have to worry about that people will read that and take it in a negative. Gina says, Is there a certain format, we should use, like bullet points or paragraphs? Um, if if you're talking about in regards to the 250 word prompt here, there's not a certain format you should use. But I would say that, again, I'm in line with my advice of not taking the ideas that COVID prompting and dundun to literally, I would still go with paragraphs and approach it like an essay, right? Because you want to be able to talk about not just the material impact of COVID, but how you overcame it, or how you at least adjusted to it, what it meant to you. So I'd say probably like a more traditional format would still be better. And Sonia asks about the first part is the 250 words. Sorry, if you do, I guess, restate that question. I think I'd have a hard time understanding it. I think what you're asking, and you can just ask again, if I'm incorrect, but I think what you're asking is that, do we still need to answer? The personal or the personal statement? If we're writing about the COVID, 250 word prompt? Um, I think that's what you're saying? Yes. But again, you don't have to do both, because 250 word prompt is optional. And again, more than optional, as I've argued, you probably shouldn't be writing about it. In the general case, um, Vivian talks about is it okay to talk about ICT exams got cancelled from marches, September and had spent months in preparing for the test? So that's a good question. And, you know, obviously, that's really, really frustrating and so much time in your life, that's, that's gone by, with, you know, kind of nothing to show for it. Through absolutely no fault of your own, you really just didn't have the opportunity to even know show off your preparation. At the same time, especially for this essay, or sorry, this prompt, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to be talking about that. And again, you want to talk about you want to limit this essay to explaining things that could make you look bad. And from what I'm seeing in that question, you know, you spent time doing LSAT prep, but there's nothing negative about that, right? You're at the point of talking about that would be to try and extrapolate that, here's what I would have done. Here's a good thing that would have happened if I had been able to take the LSAT, which is a little bit not in the vein of how you want to approach this problem. So thank you for those questions. And I'll come back here to the slides now. So again, yeah, volunteer service, all that stuff. Not great things to write about in this space. Again, you could come off as very, very tone deaf, if you just end up writing about a relatively minor issue or if you give off the sense that you feel like your own issues. Were I guess, like very, very significant and if you know comparatively speaking, they weren't. And admissions officers I think would be very turned off by tone of voice.


Or by that, I guess, evaluation of your personality.


Um, a couple of more do's and don'ts. If you are going to write this essay, you probably want to start with the facts, right. So again, the material impact what that actually was what it looked like. And then spend a little bit of time sharing your emotions and reflections about the impact. And then if you find a way to address the challenge, share that right again, you only have 250 words to work with. So you don't have to go and like spin off a story or any deep insights. Like you wouldn't maybe in a personal statement, but you know, just a little bit, a couple lines about, you know, this is the kind of Aftermath or the consequences of what's happened. And if you feel like you need to sell the emotional impact of the event, I would say that, you know, that probably is a very big red flag that you shouldn't be writing this essay, at least with the topic that you have at the moment, I think that any material impact is going to bet that deserves to be written about is going to be something that's relatively self explanatory that admissions officers are going to be able to seem to Oh, yeah, no, I mean, that totally makes sense. And you're not going to have to say that Oh, like this made me feel really bad. Like, for example, was one of the earlier questions, you know, if you if you had pre existing conditions with depression, and that made it worse, no, you're not going to have to tell them missions officer, my depression got worse. So I felt that like, they'll they'll know, okay, depression got worse, that's not great. But if you have to say something like, you know, I spent so much more time on online classes in front of a computer, and you want to explain, like, in a lot of words, by that was emotionally taxing, that's probably a less ideal way to go.


Um, cool. So then the rest the last section, as you know, most of what I've been telling you is, don't try to avoid using COVID. In your essays, you definitely don't want to be overusing it. But if I'm not talking about it in my essays, then where else can I put it in my application, right, because a lot of people out there will have had, you know, extracurriculars disrupted, potential, things like that sad that we were just talking about opportunities that just kind of vanished. And you don't want that, you know, it's frustrating to have that vanish from your application completely. So there are some opportunities for you to include that the best place for an activity, or an extracurricular that you participated in, in pre COVID is, again in the description for that activity in the activity section. You don't need to spend too much space on explain that missed opportunity, we definitely mentioned it. And in when I say you don't want to spend too much space, I guess, think about how you approach the things that extracurriculars that you actually have done. So for example, you know, it's been a while since I filled out the college application stuff, but on my resumes, for even the biggest work experience, work experiences, or academic projects, or whatever that I have in my resume. Typically, I have maybe like two bullet points at most, to describe, you know, my accomplishments or my responsibilities in those positions. And so, if two bullet points are, that is enough to describe, you know, what you did do in something, then you probably don't need that much more space to explain what you didn't do. Right. So just be careful and not going overboard. If you want to talk about Miss extracurriculars. Again, those are going to be the I guess, the overarching lesson of this is that a lot of things are going to be self explanatory for admissions officers, if you were, you know, a state athlete, or if you're an athlete, that was probably going to win state, and you lost that chance, because organized sports were canceled in the spring, that's probably going to be something that's relatively apparent from maybe your previous, you know, if you're a track person, you know, from your previous times, junior year, the times and your races leading up to state or one state would have been, whereas, you know, if you had done an extra if you're planning on doing extracurricular, like being in the school play, which you had never been involved in before and in the theater world, and you are going to be like the an extra as a as a tree on stage or something. You know, that's again, that's something that admissions officers are going to say, Hey, you know, you're challenging yourself going out of the box, but at the end of the day, you know, not the biggest extracurricular and again, not something that you're going to have to explain or want to try and blow up in particular Where?


And yeah, so Okay, so now I see what Sonia was was asking about. So the cover prompt having two sections, the 250 and the 650. Uh, yeah, you can write in the 250 I guess space and then write for the 650. Spaces? Well, again, I just recommend that you use the 250 word space to limit yourself for the, the, I guess, bulk of the product, just so that you don't end up going writing too much about COVID.


Most of these things aren't going to need too much explanation.


And then again, if there's any other additional information that you want to provide, that doesn't really fit into that prompt, or any other category, then you can use that 600 word space. And then if any of these don't really make sense, or if you just want a little bit more explanation, or if you you know, if you feel weird saying, Hey, I was going to win state, or had a really good chance, you can have an extra career advisor or guidance counselor mentioned I write like a college counselor, or even maybe one of your, your academic advisors, like one of your teachers, and just mention that in their in their recommendation profile as I was going to be a big deal for you. Um, okay, just so okay, friends clarifying the question, if nothing else in the application needs explaining no different grades, etc. If a student suffered with depression or anxiety during covid, shouldn't even be mentioned, what is the point of this? Um, yeah, so I would personally say that, I mean, I would still mention it. And the what you want to be careful about right is, again, especially no different grades, etc. You don't want to overstate it. But you definitely want to give admissions officers the full perspective of everything that you know, a student has been going through during the recovery period, the point would be, you know, just as if there had been a dip in grades, and you could use that to explain the that that trend, or that difference in performance. If there isn't a different grades, that is also, you know, relatively impressive that, you know, you could maintain the same level of performance while going through, you know, a more difficult period time of your life. So I don't think there's no benefit and talking about something like that, even if, you know, on paper, there wasn't any different trends or things that you needed to explain.


Okay, so yeah. So that's that for the rest of your application. And that should take us to the end here. We went through that relatively quickly. But yeah, so this is the q&a section. If anyone has any questions, you know, feel free to keep shooting. Just keep in mind that. Again, any questions, even if they're not fully formulated, just try it and give me a heads up that you're thinking of asking a question or trying to trying to figure out how to word it. So that I know that you're thinking about a question, I don't accidentally, end the live stream.


But other than that, thank you, everybody, for being on the stream here. hope you got some good takeaways about how to approach writing about COVID. Thinking about COVID, incorporating COVID in your applications?


And yeah, thanks so much.


Uh, so going back the question from Fran, what is the stated purpose of this code question? Until if we go back and look at here, right, just if we look at the prompt, um, basically, what they want to know, is the impacts that COVID has had, um, that could be the tangible impacts that COVID has had that would have that would not have occurred, you know, without dependent and obviously, but those things are fine if they include they can encompass health and well being emotional stability, family circumstances, even if and again, they want you to describe the impacts, but even if there's no immediately tangible impacts, in terms of numbers, I think that they would still count that as a genuine impact. And the fact that the numbers didn't change doesn't mean that there was nothing there was no I guess root cause behind the veneer of numbers that a student is there a certain profile is okay, where would I put the fact from asteroid road I put the fact that I took up a part time job during COVID since I had more time and the fact that I hope my family with work on our home. Okay, uh, so one thing that I would ask, is what you mean by, you had more time. So it sounds like the place that you're coming from, is that you had more time you took up a part time job.


Not necessarily because, you know, it was like something that was really, I don't want to phrase this incorrectly. But something that wasn't absolutely necessary, like something you weren't pushed to. But just because you know, maybe less school extracurriculars, you just end up having more time in your schedule.


And if that's the reason that you took up the part time job, again, I don't think that has a place in the prompts here. I think that has a place in the extracurriculars being able to describe the fact that, you know, I tried to make the most of the bad situation. This is this would kind of for me fall in lines of the idea I did community service to help out with the effects of pandemic. And the same thing for the fact that you helped your family with work on the home. Again, that's just a little bit more of a extracurricular okay. Yeah, so because of virtual learning, unless new time add more or less, it can be time to school add more time. So exactly, it that, for me is definitely just something to quickly note in the extracurriculars as opposed to writing any sort of essay on it.


Um, Valerie asks, Can we reference our additional info section in the code section? Or vice versa? For example, 250 words, it's not enough to discuss an illness or something along those lines? Uh, so?


Yes, um, yes, I would say you can. However, I guess I'm just pausing a little bit at that second. Or in the explanations that question, because, as I'm a little worried that if you find that 250 words isn't enough to discuss an illness, that you might be being a little bit that I feel like, it's possible that you could be a little bit concise, a little bit more concise and make that fit in the 250 word space. Again, because college admissions officers don't have a ton of time in reviewing your applications, I think erring on the side of short, not not erring on the side of not including versus including but erring on the side of shorter, more concise descriptions versus more lengthier explanations is better, because that will also just have a little bit more of a cleaner and stronger impact on admissions officers. So that's the only thing I would say there.


I see. Okay, so Valerie is following up? About about the illness? Olga, more of a personal tailor question. So I won't make that publicly available. But okay, I think that makes sense. And again, still, I think could be possible to fit then 250 words, but if that ends up being impossible, then yeah, that makes sense. Okay, I'm just gonna release a couple of polls for you guys that are still on the live stream. So go ahead and answer those at your leisure.


This is invaluable feedback for us to be able to tailor our services to what you guys are looking for. But yeah, in the meantime, I'll still be waiting for any, any and all questions that are coming in. Okay.


Graziella asking, should a student use the 250 word space to explain an internship activities, Summer Program, etc, that would have been central to their application and now has a gap because of the cancellation? Um, yeah. So I guess the first thing I would ask is, you know, how central is central. Um, and, you know, I would challenge yourself to think about that critically as well. Because I think that does make a difference. For me, my instinct still would be to lean towards maybe using that in the extracurricular space. But if that's Again, you know, pretty integral to who you are as an applicant, if it's a part of your applicant story that kind of really makes things fall apart without it, then yeah, I think you could maybe consider using 250 word space to explain that.


Again, because you want to think of that as a space where you're not trying to make yourself look better, but just explain factors that made things look worse and be very cautious. And so. Okay, so So the example was a pre med student got a job at a lab? And how do you do that in activities? Right, so I think, um, so you know, in terms of the extra computers, or at least, maybe even the 650 word space, not in the 250 words, phase, but the 650 word space, where you could just kind of list examples of things on extracurriculars that you lost. Or if that is a really, really big part of your application, I would ask one of your recommended recommenders and one of your recommenders or, you know, if your college counselor is someone that you feel comfortable asking him to do this for, just to mention that there this is a big part of your profile, you know, pre med, it's a big part of who you are, and you're on this track until your job at the lot was was cancelled because of COVID. And I think that would probably be the most effective way to frame that.


Okay, I'll give it a couple more minutes. For some questions to trickle in. And if I don't get anything, I'll go ahead and close the livestream.


Okay, about one more minute before we end the livestream, unless any last questions come in. If you haven't done so already, please consider filling out those polls and giving us information there.


Okay, I'll go ahead and end the live stream here.


Keep an eye out for all the live streams that we have coming up at CollegeVine in the rest of the week. Register for everything that looks interesting to you and yeah, thank you so much, everybody.

Your host

Undergrad College: Williams College '20

Work Experience: I first joined CollegeVine in the fall of 2016. Since then, I've worked as an essay and admissions consultant, SAT tutor, and hiring manager within the company. More recently, I've also advised hundreds of students in my livestreams, specializing in liberal arts colleges and standardized testing content.

My Admissions Story: I did almost everything wrong in my undergraduate applications, and I was never supposed to attend Williams. The fact that I did is the best thing that ever happened to me! I've learned a lot of tips over the years on what to do in your college applications, and I have ample first-hand experience of what not to do as well. But the biggest lesson of all? Don't let yourself stress too much about the admissions process. Things (somehow) found a way to work out for me in the end. They will for you, too!


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