From Preventing Suicide to Preventing Suicidality: The Power of Proactive Wellness Check-Ins
As a vegan, one of my favorite jokes goes like this: Q: How do you know someone you just met is vegan? A: They’ll tell ...
By SOFIA B. PERTUZ
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer & Senior Advisor for JED Campus at The Jed Foundation
As a family parenting a high school junior, we planned to get a jump on the admission process this spring semester by visiting colleges in February. We went on several campus visits, sat in on information sessions, and participated in campus tours. As we went on our tours, I realized that despite working in higher education for over two decades and having been on the other side of the admission presentations and knowing a great deal, as a parent I knew nothing. There is so much about the process that I needed to consider that I had never thought about as a college professional trying to convince prospective students and their families that a school was going to be the right fit.
I’m also a first-generation American parent who picked her college from the beautiful pictures of a brochure since my parents were not familiar with the admissions process; campus visits were not part of my college search process.
Then COVID-19 entered the picture. The daily developments resulting from this global pandemic are impacting the college search and admissions process, causing confusion and stress for many families.
We had entered our teen’s high school junior year with well thought out and proactive college search plans, including taking a prep course and completing practice exams for the SAT and ACT. Then everything changed. The coronavirus began to take hold and plans needed to shift. First the SAT date in March was postponed to two weeks later, then canceled altogether. A previously confident high school junior went from understanding the situation and appreciating the extra two weeks to prep, to feeling frustrated and anxious.
We have been left with questions for which we still have no answers: What now? When will the tests be rescheduled? How will this change the admission schedule? How do we manage our mental health and wellness as we navigate this process and the rapidly changing environment?
We have continued to receive admission brochures from multiple colleges, serving as a reminder that they had plans too. This thought gave me a sense of comfort that none of the disruptions we are now experiencing were in the plan. These colleges expected to welcome prospective students and their families to their campuses to show off their best features. And just like we are busy trying to handle our own daily challenges, colleges have also been busy moving from mostly in-person to online instruction and services for their students. We are still concerned about what the admissions process is going to ultimately look like, but we are reassured by how many colleges are quickly responding to this situation. Some have invited us to virtual tours and others have created even more creative and detailed brochures to share their offerings with prospective students and their families.
My experience in higher education, as a parent of a college-bound student and my role as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at The Jed Foundation may help others put things in perspective. While there are things we cannot control, there are some things we can do right now to relieve our stress as parents and the stress of our children as we collectively deal with the uncertainty.
Sofia B. Pertuz is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Senior Advisor for JED Campus at The Jed Foundation (JED). Sofia has over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, assessment, inclusive excellence, and critical incident management in higher education and has been an invited speaker to international audiences on topics in leadership, change management, social justice, and LGBTQ advocacy, including delivering keynotes in Spanish. Sofia completed a B.A. in Organizational Communication from SUNY New Paltz and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy, both from Seton Hall University.
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