Rochelle Farris, McNary High School's College and Career advisor, is still working with students to plan for their future as they navigate distance learning.

Even though school has switched to distance learning, the College and Career Center (CCC) at McNary High School is still open and available for students. Many students have been unsure about graduation, FAFSA and the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA), and scholarships, but Rochelle Farris is working hard to address the concerns.

Most information about scholarships available and how to apply for FAFSA can be found on the college and career center website (tinyurl.com/mcnaryccc). There are also scheduled events and recordings of the meetings if students can’t make it. Farris encourages students to join the REMIND app and sign up to receive notifications about important dates and other school related topics for their class.

Although every scholarship is different, the most common application deadlines tend to be Nov. 1, Nov. 15, Dec. 15, Jan. 15 and Feb. 1. FAFSA and ORSAA both open on Oct. 1. Students with any more questions should contact Farris on the school website.

Beginning Oct. 5, seniors will be introduced to a new class on Canvas that will provide resources and planning information. The class will not be graded but advisory teachers will encourage their students to check out some of the assignments provided in the class.

Many colleges are not requiring SAT/ACT test scores as part of the application process. However, some scholarships still require the tests as part of their award process. 

“Each student should look at their top choice schools and connect directly with their college admissions counselor to determine the steps for applying and any changes they have made to admissions requirements or scholarship applications for this year,” said Farris.

When it comes to college application essays, many students have turned to talking about COVID-19, but Farris encourages students to take a different route. 

“The most important thing about admissions and scholarship essays is making it personal,” said Farris. The CCC website has an essay writing model that Farris hopes students will use to help write their own essays when it comes to applying for colleges. Students can then use the essay they wrote to apply for multiple scholarships that have the same prompt.

With the start of virtual learning, many students have been concerned about the lack of extracurricular activities and sports available to them. Less experience outside the classroom means some students are struggling when trying to write scholarship and college essays.

Farris challenges students to look at what they could be doing during the pandemic for their community. “Colleges understand the limitations we all face due to the pandemic,” she said. 

Earlier this week, Farris began hosting virtual Zoom drop-in events from 10 a.m. to noon. The sessions will continue every Monday for students and parents to ask questions and get general feedback. Those concerned about graduation should also contact their school counselor to make a personal, guided plan.

Before distance learning, students who signed up for the mentor program would meet with a mentor who will help guide them towards college and career opportunities. So far, this program has not been available, however, McNary mentors were scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Sept. 29 to discuss the mentor program and how it will work. 

“Based on restrictions the district has placed on Zoom meetings to only allow students into the sessions, we will be unable to use that platform for mentors to meet with students. However, REMIND connections are still an option (texting and phone calls) and then we are looking at other possible options,” said Farris.