Same Kind of Different, Part 2

This week we welcome Director of Communications for Enrollment Management, Becky Tankersley, to the blog. Welcome, Becky!

Let’s do a quick exercise: imagine its admission decision release day. You worked for weeks to prepare. You’ve collaborated with a variety of people to be sure you completed every action item on your list. Now you’re online, eagerly checking Reddit and College Confidential to see what other people are saying. You may be sending frantic texts or emails to others who are also waiting, making sure there isn’t something you overlooked (even though you know for a fact you’ve checked everything at least a dozen times). You wait… you watch… until the clock hits noon and the decision is released.

Sound familiar? What I just described is decision release day from an admission or enrollment communicator’s point of view!

Just as a tremendous amount of work goes into reviewing admission applications, a tremendous amount of work goes into the communications behind those decisions. In Same Kind of Different, Rick talks about the time and energy spent by his staff in reading applications (and I can confirm that YES, he’s being honest when he says EVERY application is read by an actual human, often multiple times).

The Communications Conduit

Our communications team does not read your application, but we do serve as the conduit between the admission team and you. Our staff writes your emails and letters, creates and updates websites, designs mailers and flyers, and generally keeps the communication train moving. Preparing communications for decision release is not unlike you preparing your admission essay: we write the first draft. We review it with admission. They make edits. We make revisions. We send it back and forth anywhere from 2-10 times.

Making a list, checking it twice (or twenty times)…

After it’s final, it THEN goes to our editor in Institute Communications to ensure it makes sense to someone outside of the admission world (after you’ve lived and breathed admission for several years, not to mention read something 100+ times, it takes an outside perspective to ensure admission jargon doesn’t creep in and those pesky typos and/or broken links are caught). They review. We edit. Once that’s complete, we upload the final version into your admission portal. And guess what? Then we review it again!

Letters, portals, emails, forms, websites, FAQ pages, print pieces. I’ve been involved with decision release for almost a decade, and the importance of the moment has not yet diminished.

Watching and Waiting

During the week before decision release, we watch Reddit, College Confidential, and hashtags on social media (I confirm what you suspect—we are watching!). What are you seeing? What are you saying? Every year we see applicants frantically search for any little sign that might indicate a decision. A fourth tab in a portal? A Pay Now button? An email from financial aid? Just as you are constantly checking and digging, we’re constantly listening and reviewing until decisions are out. Your online chatter helps us identify any gaps we may have missed.

It’s not lost on us that every little thing makes a difference. We see the tension and anxiety many of you experience. Your work has all led up to this moment. It turns out we’re not that different. While you anxiously wait for a decision, we anxiously wait for you to receive that decision. We’re aiming for a smooth process for you… one that is clear, transparent, and gives you all the information you need, avoiding confusion along the way.

Nowhere Near the End…

At this point in the year, most admission decisions are out from schools around the nation. While you may not have received all the admission decisions you hoped for, there’s no doubt you’ve gotten in somewhere (likely many somewheres!) amazing.

Getting in is a big accomplishment… but it’s nowhere near the end of your journey. So, what happens now?

Finish the drill.

You’ll find your email inbox incredibly full over the next month, and it’s imperative that you read what we send! Your admission application was just the beginning… now that you’re “in,” there is a litany of next steps to complete. Deposit deadlines, financial aid completion, housing, orientation, learning communities, visit events, meet and greets… these are only a few examples of the communications you will receive. Read the emails from the schools where you’ve been admitted, and regularly check your applicant portal as well.

Pay attention to dates.

As mentioned above, many of the communications you will receive are time sensitive. And, while inconvenient, the deadlines vary from school to school. Not only is there variance from school to school, you’ll see differences at the same school from year to year (for example, last year Tech’s deposit deadline was May 1, and this year it’s May 3).

Don’t assume the deadlines that applied to your sibling or friend who got in a year ago are the same deadlines you have, especially since we’re all still operating amid a pandemic. Read the information, and pay attention to the dates. Inside tip: any school with a CRM (customer relationship management) can see what emails you’ve opened, and which ones you didn’t. If you miss a deadline and say “I didn’t receive/see that email,” well, it’s not going to hold any weight when we see that you 1) received it, and 2) opened it.

Yes, it matters!

After you’ve done the work to apply, be admitted, and pay a deposit to commit, following the steps above still matter. We know your inbox is overloaded. I promise we try not to make it worse! Be assured that the communications we send to you are mission critical. Our job is to be sure you to know what is next, what opportunities are available, and the deadlines looming on the horizon. So, don’t slack off now! You paid attention before you were admitted, and it’s even more important that you pay attention now.

A Tip of the Hat

Communication teams typically don’t receive the same attention that admission and financial aid teams do. After all, those offices are the boots on the ground, talking personally to students and families from year to year, creating relationships and adding the personal touch.

But standing quietly in the background are communicators making sure the information you receive is clear, understandable, useful, and most importantly, correct. From web developers to information technologists, marketing specialists to editors, graphic designers to mail house teams, there are many people working behind the scenes to get the job done.

So, here’s to you, campus communicators! The work you do matters, and admission, recruitment, and enrollment couldn’t happen without the work you do. Thank you!

Becky Tankersley has worked in higher education for more than a decade in a variety of roles in admission and enrollment management. Before starting her career in education, she worked as a television news producer. Her current role blends her skills in communication and love of college recruitment. Becky is the editor of the GT Admission Blog, and also serves as a Content Coordinator for the American Association of Collegiate Registrar and Admission Officers.

Soothing the Sting of College Admission Decisions

My son has terrible seasonal allergies. Since Atlanta is basically a city in the forest, spring is really rough as everything starts to bloom. This week his throat has been so sore that he’s barely eaten, he’s woken up most nights crying in discomfort, and has spent his days at school suffering under a mask. As a parent, I want so badly to take away his pain, but I’m left helplessly repeating, “It is going to be ok. You are going to feel better soon.”  

All true but he’s the one having to suffer through the pain and frustration (plus pop Claritin and suck on lozenges). I can support and encourage him, but ultimately it’s just going to take time to improve  

Over the last few weeks, and in the days ahead, many colleges are releasing admission decisions. Inevitably, some of you reading this will be (or have been) denied or waitlisted (or supporting those who do)

I can’t totally soothe that sting, but over the years, I’ve written extensively about my own personal “re-routes,” as well as the experiences of students, family, and friends 

Here are a few that may give you some perspective, solace, and hope.  

Lessons and Hopes for High School Seniors. Happened last year – lost an election to the board of my national organization. 

“The truth is we learn more about ourselves when we don’t get something, or when something is taken away, than when everything is smooth, easy, and going our way. Growth comes after discomfort or pain. My hope is you won’t just get through the admission process, but rather embrace it as an opportunity to remember the decisions of others are not what define us. They may change our direction, but character, mentality, and motivation is ours to choose.”

I Have a Brother. Multiple instances of not making a team, being selected, getting a job, getting into his first-choice college, and more. 

“My hope is you will come to understand and appreciate that success is not a point-to-point trip. A life fully and well-lived is not a straight road. So when you feel like things are falling apart; when you look around and believe “everyone else is happy;” when you question what you did wrong or why something did not work out, my hope is you will remember you are not at a dead-end, or even a U-turn that is forcing you to double back. These are inevitable turns, re-routes, and natural bends in the road you should expect on any journey.” 

Handling That MomentJunior year in high school, dumped by my girlfriend.   

If you If you find yourself in that moment, I hope you will have the clarity to know—or the willingness to hear your friends or parents or coaches remind you—of the truth: nobody is perfect. No college is either. 

The Other Side. Stories of current college students who did not end up where they expected. 

“There are many times in life that we need to be reminded to slow down, remain calm, and dream of The Other Side.  I hope you’ll strive to recognize those moments not only in your own life but in those of your friends and family members too. Take the time to encourage them; to come around them; to describe with optimism and confidence the better days that lie ahead.” 

Earlier this week, Melissa Korn, who covers education for the Wall Street Journal, sent out this tweet encouraging followers to share their stories of denial and disappointment. If you are a senior currently awaiting or having just received a waitlist or deny decision, I encourage you to go check out that thread, as admission directors and others from around the country shared their own stories.

I’ve said before and will say again, college admission decisions are not character judgments or predictions of future potential. Getting in, or not getting in, to a particular school does not change who you are, the feasibility of your goals, or define you in a substantive way. 

Just like with my son I know I cannot fully take away your discomfort or pain or frustration with my wordsThat is going to take some timeBut hopefully through these stories and posts will help you begin to believe and see that you are not just going to be ok—you are going to be great. TRUST!    

The Waitlist. Why?!

Listen to “The Waitlist…Why?! – Rick Clark” on Spreaker.

The only thing more annoying than a four-year old incessantly asking you why is a twelve-year-old, impersonating a four-year old asking you why. Plus, they are faster, and not as easily distracted by a lollipop or cartoon.

However, lately our ten-year old has come up with some pretty solid queries about how things work.

Why are some metals not magnetic?

Why do Americans say, “soccer” instead of “football?”

Not liking my first answer, she patiently rephrased, “Why did Americans decide to name another sport “football?”   

If you’ve received a waitlist offer recently, you are probably also asking, “why?” And while Google was quite helpful on “Why California became a state before Oregon,” you’ll find some disconcerting and completely inaccurate information about college waitlists on the interwebs.

Waitlisted? Here is what you need to know:

Why do they exist?

Colleges use historical trends and statistical models to predict “yield,” i.e., the number or percentage of students that accept an offer of admission and choose to enroll. Currently, the average yield for four-year colleges is around 35%.

Yield varies based on a variety of factors. For example, a student’s major, distance from campus, and financial aid package all contribute to their likelihood of committing. But, for the purposes of simplicity, if a school is looking to enroll 1,000 students, and their expected yield is 33%, they’ll need to admit approximately 3,000 students.

As you can imagine, this year yield is more fragile and unpredictable than ever. The pandemic has thrown all kinds of curveballs into the equation, including issues around finances, health, willingness to travel great distances from home, and so on.

Ultimately, however, chancellors, presidents and boards of directors/trustees do not care about variables. Every university has an enrollment goal they are expected to meet, and the admissions and enrollment teams are charged with bringing in that class–both in overall size and particular composition.

If yield drops (as it has most places in recent years), the college needs to be able to make additional offers to hit stated targets. Voila- The Waitlist!

How do waitlists work?

A waitlist for a college is not the same as a line outside of a concert or restaurant (use your way back machine to visualize this reference). In other words, schools do not assign numbers or rank to the students on their waitlist. Instead, they watch their deposits closely beginning in April and compare those numbers with their goals. If they see that their geographic, gender, academic, or other demographic targets are “soft” (i.e. not coming in at the level they are looking for), they may go to their waitlist before their deposit deadline. Otherwise, they will wait until after their deposit deadline, assess the gap between their targets and their current number of deposits, and then begin making offers to “shape” their class.

Here is an example. Good College, located in Bonne, is trying to grow their Economics program. They have 560 students on their waitlist. After their deposit deadline, they see they still need 20 deposits to hit their overall class target. They also notice that students depositing for Economics are at the same level as the year before. So, guess who is getting the first wave of waitlist offers?

Waitlist activity is influenced not only by the demographics and composition of the incoming students, but also on who is graduating and which current students they expect to return. In other words, if the university always wants to be able to say they have at least one student from each of the 50 states, and their one Nebraskan is a senior… “Welcome to Good, Mr. Bien from Kearney, NE.”

How they don’t work.

  • Each year, a few admitted students will inform us they are going to choose another college, but they want to “give their spot” to a friend on the waitlist. That’s good looking out, and kind to offer. Not how it works, but good looking out. 
  • Showing up to “demonstrate interest” is not a thing. Even in non-pandemic times, coming to the admission office to say, “Hey!” Or “Hey, I’m on the waitlist and… I’d like to come off.” Or “Hey, I’m on the waitlist and… I’d like to come off… and I really like your shirt.” NOPE. None of that is necessary, and none of that will work. See Admission 101 advice below.

What can you do if you are waitlisted?

  1. Accept your spot on the list. At most schools the waitlist decision is actually an offer, rather than an automatic spot on the list. Typically, you need to take action of some kind to claim your waitlist spot. You also may need to complete a supplementary short answer question, send mid-semester grades, or submit another recommendation letter/ interview. All colleges vary in how they work their waitlist, but Admission 101 = read what they send and do what it says. 
  1. Deposit elsewhere. The college that has offered you a spot on their waitlist should be instructing you to take this step, as it is absolutely critical. Because many admitted students wait until the week prior to the deposit deadline to commit, the majority of waitlist activity occurs in May, June, and July. That means you need to put your money down at another school in order to secure your spot. Just like the college, you are hedging your bets.
    I hate to go all Effie Trinket on you here, but just in case no one else says it… the waitlist odds are not in your favor. “But I thought you just said…” I know, I know. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is a numbers game, and this year you’ve got plenty of company on the waitlist. Your job is to get excited about a school that did admit you and secure your space in their class.

3. Don’t stalk the admission office. Claim your spot, send in what they ask for, and wait. That’s it! If you really feel compelled to send an email to an admission counselor that you’ve met or corresponded with previously, that could be your one other action item. If you do that, it’s a one and done deal. We have seen students send a painted shoe with a message on the bottom reading: “just trying to get my foot in the door.” Memorable, but ultimately ineffective. Admission offices regularly receive chocolates, cookies, and treats along with poems or notes. It is safe to say that a couple hundred grams of sugar and a few couplets are not going to outweigh institutional priorities. There is a distinct line between expressing interest and stalking. Stay in your lane.

4. Finish Well. This is not the “scared straight” message about keeping your grades up, not being a jerk to your sister, or posting mean things online. If you have not heard all of that by now, we have an entirely different set of issues. Instead, my hope is you will not let being on a waitlist keep you from enjoying the last part of your senior year. It’s already been challenging enough with Covid-19, so don’t make it any more stressful or difficult for yourself. Spend time with your friends and family and do the things you love.

For the Record

Whether you are an admissions dean, a student, a school counselor, or a parent, we can all agree on this- The Waitlist Sucks. It’s like the brain freeze of admissions land; it’s the seventh layer of admission purgatory; it’s our collective Newman! Why? Why! Why?!

NEEDED- New College Admissions Map

Listen to “JUNIORS: Create a New College Admissions Map – Rick Clark” on Spreaker.

I have traveled extensively throughout the United States and overseas. At last count, 45 states, five continents, and 138 of Georgia’s 159 countiesBeyond that I have always loved looking at maps, studying American history, and can generally hold my own at Tuesday Night Trivia when geography questions come up.  

However, a few years ago I visited Minneapolis for the first time. I flew in late and woke up early to run through the city before the day got rolling. At the hotel’s front desk, I asked for a recommendation on a good route to get a sense of the area. “Oh. Of course. I’d recommend the ‘Bridge Run.’ It’s about six miles and crosses the river four times. I think you’ll love it.”  

I honestly pray the hotel did not have a camera on the front desk that morning to capture the next part of our exchange.  

“Oh, great. What river is it?”

Honestly, I thought she was going to rattle off some obscure name that I may have vaguely heard mentioned or seen once randomly on a map. 

She paused and I noticed her eyebrows raise slightly as she breathed in deeply.  And then, with a slight bit of pity in her voice, she said slowly… “The Mississippi.” 

Now I am pretty sure I held it together in the moment, but it was all I could do to bottle up the simultaneous combination of embarrassment and shock that ran through me.

“Perfect,” I stammered and headed quickly for the door.  

Arguably our nation’s most famous river, I’d crossed the Mississippi many times— even swam in it once–granted a few thousand miles south. How could I not realize this is the state where it starts?  

The run across the bridges at sunrise that day was breathtaking. By the third crossing I had transitioned from being flummoxed and embarrassed to laughing about it. I texted my wife (who lived there for five years) a picture from the middle of one of the bridges: “Mississippi River runs through Minneapolis…who knew?!” Five minutes later she replied, “Everyone but you, apparently.” Ouch. Insult to injury.  

I am guessing you can think of a similar situation or revelation–something you read, heard, or learned that changed your view, challenged your assumptions, or expanded your understanding of someone or something (If you can’t, start reading more and hanging around different people).  

In many ways, my experience in Minnesota is illustrative of the limited and misinformed perspective most people have on both college and college admission. They have some exposure but lack the full picture. They rely on personal experience and are so heavily influenced by social media or what they hear and observe in their small circle, that their view is understandably narrow–a condition, whether it be in politics, public health, or another issue in society, that inevitably leads to poor decision-making and unnecessary anxiety.  

Mind the Map

If you are a junior in high school, your job this spring is to work diligently to see a bigger, more accurate landscape of higher education, broaden your understanding of the amazing choices and options you have, and commit to navigating a unique path through your college admission experience 

Since traveling is limited right now in the pandemic, here are a few ways to get a sense of the landscape and ensure the “map” you are using is accurate: 

1- Determine Your Starting Point 

  • Write down the names of the first seven colleges or universities that pop into your head.  
  • Now circle the schools that are in your home state; the colleges that a parent, sibling, or other family member attended; the schools that are nationally known in your favorite sport; and any that rhyme with Stanvard. 

Are more than 50% circled?  If so, welcome to Minneapolis!  Hopefully, you see this as an opportunity to expand your horizons  

 2- Survey Your Surroundings– find out where some people you know (or know of) went to college. 

The CEO of your favorite national/international brand. 

Your principal/ school head. 

Your town/city’s mayor. 

Two or three of your neighbors or parents’ friends. 

Your favorite science or math teacher. 

Your favorite history, foreign language, or English teacher.  

Your favorite athletes. 

The owner of your favorite local business. 

Your favorite actor or musician.  

A state or federal legislator you respect.  

A famous person from your city or state. 

What did you learn? 

What surprised you? 

Is there a college or university on the list you had not heard of before? 

3- Drop a Pin

Patrick Winter, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Services and Enrollment at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has a theory that if you were to throw a dart at a map of the United States, or enter coordinates into Google Earth and drop a pin online somewhere in this country, you would find a college within 100 miles where you could get in, meet a friend for life, engage with a professor who would support and encourage you, pick a major you would enjoy, and plug into a campus community where you could build a network and thrive during your undergraduate years and beyond. 

  • Give it a shot! (Just promise to be careful if you choose to blindfold yourself and throw darts.)  
  • After a selecting a random location, drop a pin on your house’s location, and draw that same circle within 100 miles.  

What are your options?  

What if we expanded that to your entire state?  

Any state that borders your state?  

Go online and search for the alumni magazine and student newspapers from some of those colleges you have discovered, or check out their social media accounts. These are great resources as you are researching, preparing to visit (virtually or in person), and ultimately before making a final college choice. In these publications, you will read countless success stories, relationships that started on campus, and interesting, caring faculty and staff who make that school an absolutely incredible environment to learn, grow, and explore. They’ll prove in both statistics and stories of students and graduates that the path to success and happiness goes through hundreds of campuses, rather than the ten or twenty most media cover ad nauseum. 

4- Black Out 

Give a parent or younger sibling a Sharpie and tell them to rip the cover off brochures that come to your house in the next month. Then ask them to use a Sharpie to black out the name of the college everywhere it appears.  

How does not knowing the name of a college change your perspective or opinions? 

How do the questions you ask change when you review colleges this way?  

5- Stay Grounded and Take Flight 

Watch and listen closely to the seniors this spring. You are going to see them deliberate over decisions that involve finances, distance from home, opinions of others, and a variety of other factors. Those who applied to a variety of schools in terms of selectivity and cost are going to have options. Ask the seniors you are close to what advice they would have based on their experience. And  pay attention to what they are saying this fall as they head off to school – and as you are applying to schools too. Notice how stories and perspectives change. Their “dream school” or “top choice” from last fall or this spring is often not the same one they end up attending and loving.   

Like college itself, the college admission experience is all about learning, expanding, researching, and being open to new ideas and possibilities. That takes paying attention, reflection, intention, and sometimes tension. Focus this spring on acknowledging what you don’t know and commit to listening, learning, and exploring. Enjoy the journey  

Predicting Yield in 2021: Everyone Shorts It 

Listen to “Predicting Yield in 2021 – Rick Clark” on Spreaker.

“$10 says he shorts it.” Just one of the countless quotable lines in the must watch classic, Oceans 11. 

After assembling the perfect crew, stealing a massive explosive device, falsifying identities, and recreating identical vaults, the heist of three Las Vegas casinos comes down to the ability of Yen (Shaobo Qin) to pull off a 10-foot backflip and land squarely on top of a cabinet inside a heavily protected vault that contains $160 million

As the other members of Danny Oceans’ team watch from their secure location, Frank (Bernie Mac), says, “$10 says he shorts it.” While several of the crew jumped in to not only take the bet but raise the stakes during the simulated heist in their workshop, when it comes down to the real thing, they quickly and nervously reply, “No bet.”  

If he misses, alarms will sound, guards will show up, and disaster is imminent. After all the planning, pouring over details, considering scenarios, deliberating, discussing, and ad nauseum scrutiny and analysis, success ultimately hinges on a single leap. Welcome to college admission in 2021! 

Right now, admission and enrollment leaders around the country are obsessing over the models they developed to predict student “yield” behavior. They are looking back at pre-pandemic information and weighing that against 2020, in addition to praying more, sleeping less, and stretching out to make the “leap.   

Will students be willing to travel as far from home given the uncertainty of fall course delivery being in person? 

Will international students be able to physically get to the U.S., whether as a result of visa issuance or travel restrictions? 

Will test optional admits yield differently than their historical model predicts? 

How will females from the northeast admitted to the sciences yield? 

Some of the colleges that have garnered headlines in recent months for shattering application records are perhaps the most disconcerted. They know that while Common App data indicates the number of applications submitted increased by 500,000+, unique applicants (students using the platform) only increased by 80,000. While that’s not nothing, it’s also important to note that 40 new schools began accepting the Common App this year, including several big public schools that historically receive tens of thousands of applications. Translation: the average number of applications students submitted is what really increased. So, while app counts may please the Board of Trustees in the winter, what really matters is the fall census.   

And that leads us to yield. What do the next few months hold on converting students? Obviously, the easy/classic admission answer is, “it depends.” Granted, that is true, but I’m not going to do you like that. At the risk of being wrong or even “right-ish, my prediction is everyone shorts it… just at different times and for different reasons.  

At the more selective colleges (especially that incredibly small number meeting 100% of need without loans): Yield will likely remain relatively consistent. However, since those are also colleges counting beds and heads to a very precise numberand they are also the ones who saw larger gap year requests, you should count on them intentionally coming in short of their class target and working their waitlist extensively.  

Applications up, raw number of admits flat or negligibly up, sizeable raw number added to the waitlist. When you have more money in your endowment than there is in the vault, the game is to slowly walk over and climb up, rather than risk flipping over (or out as the case may be)If that’s too much of a mixed metaphor it goes like this: more students waitlisted but likely a higher percentage of the class filled from it over a longer period of timei.e., activity beginning pre-May 1 and continuing deep into the summer.  

At colleges and universities (primarily national publics) announcing an increase in their class sizeIf you have applied to a school in this category, it will be interesting to watch how those increases factor into admit and yield rates.  

My prediction is these schools see flat or slightly higher in-state yield, and slightly lower non-resident/ international yield, due again to financial, health, and mobility impacts of the pandemic. I anticipate these schools will also build a bigger waitlist than last year, in case they misjudge the vault flip. 

Here’s how it looks at Tech: We received about 4,400 more applications than last year. However, we are also increasing our class size by 150. Last year’s yield was nearly 70% for in-state and closer to 30% for non-Georgia. So, our model calls for admitting nearly 1,000 more students through EA, RD, and waitlist. Ultimately, due to the 11% app increase, our admit rate would move +/- >1%. Told you—there  is nuance in the numbers. 

At less selective colleges (private and public): I expect many/most to miss their class goal by their deposit deadline, be that May 1 or June 1.  Since higher education is an ecosystem, the dominos will start to fall as selective schools go to their waitlists, which will create even more problems for colleges already “hearing alarm bells in the vault.” Last year undergraduate enrollment was down 4% with first-year enrollment down double-digits. Expect to see a big swath of higher ed again come in short of their enrollment goals this fall for both new and returning students.   

In rare cases: yield could increase unexpectedly, and in combination with more admits, they could end up like Yen in Ocean’s 11 sliding over the cabinet. However, higher anticipated summer melt should keep them off the vault floor, so I don’t foresee any/many stories like those out of Virginia Tech in 2019.  

Bottom line 

1- If you applied to a handful of selective colleges, don’t be surprised if you get waitlisted this year. If you are so angry that you want to write them off, don’t accept your spot on the waitlist. If you can put your ego aside and temper expectations (since hundreds, or possibly thousands of other kids are also on the waitlist), deposit elsewhere and sit tight. Don’t expect to come off the waitlist, and don’t expect much financial aid if you do. In some cases, you will be pleasantly surprised on one or both counts. But set your expectations based on fiscal reality and statistics.  

2- When you get accepted (or if you already have been) ask your questions. Colleges need students, now more than ever. Yield is what it’s all about and you are precious to the places that offered you a spot. Want to know about a deposit extension? Gap year policies? Financial aid reconsideration? Fall plans for course delivery? It’s all on the table, so ASK YOUR QUESTIONS! 

3–  I could add something else here for symmetry but that’s really all I’ve got. Hang in there. Be safe, wear a mask, take care of the folks around you, and as always, Hug your mama!