Although COVID-19 has left the students and faculty of St. John’s College High School feeling discouraged because of the lack of social interaction and guidance, the school is still trying to meet the needs of the SJC community.
To address the struggles of the pandemic and help seniors finalize their college application process, the counseling center hosted the Senior Welcome Back and Reset alongside the Freshman Frenzy on February 3rd and 10th. Hosted both in-person and over Zoom, it was made to be an accessible way for seniors to organize their last few months of high school responsibilities and learn methods to take care of their mental health.
The event opened with Ms. Rosemary Martin, the Director of College Counseling, discussing the different decisions students get back on their applications, such as deferrals and wait lists, and what to do once you are accepted. She made special notice of getting FAFSA financial aid, finding scholarships, and continuing to work hard so colleges don’t reconsider your acceptance. Mr. Schwartz spoke about the effects of senioritis, the nickname for the motivational void many seniors feel despite how many important things they have to do for college. He cited changing study locations, working with friends, and making a reward system as methods to motivate oneself. After citing some mental health statistics which showed how much worse depression and anxiety rates have gotten for teens, he finished with methods for handling stress such as mindfulness, exercise, and talking to someone you trust about it.
When asked why the counseling department decided to host this new event, Ms. Martin said, “We understand the complexity and importance of having multiple touch points with our seniors to help guide them through the entirety of the college admission process.” She described the main goals of the event to be “to discuss decisions, inform and remind students of their next steps, and also encourage our seniors to continue to stay motivated academically,” describing this year as a more “essential” year to get involved in the process due to the all-digital process of college applications this year. She considered the event a success because she noticed an uptick of students putting their college decisions into Naviance. “Anytime we see outcomes of those types we like to think the event has been successful,” Ms. Martin said.
On whether a similar event might be helpful for future classes who don’t have to deal with Covid-19 restrictions, she said the office would not be completely serving our community if it did not communicate with seniors about college expectations. She described the office’s role as making sure “students have a wealth of knowledge, information, and the resources they need” for college decisions. She also added that the office specifically wanted to touch on mental health and provide seniors “more information to take care of themselves and stay healthy.”
Ms. Martin also said the office has been impressed by the seniors handling an all-digital college application process so well.