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“What’s ‘Zoom”?

by Cathy Badmington, director of college counseling 

That was the question on everyone’s lips on March 13, 2020. The BL college counseling office, along with the rest of the world, quickly learned the answer. And so much more.

We learned that the essence of the college search and selection process is about listening and learning with supportive counselors, even when it can’t be done face-to-face or on a campus. And the colleges’ response to the pandemic created new and different opportunities to discover and explore.

Things we had come to see as college search basics – walking on campuses, attending college fairs, sitting with a big group taking standardized tests, shaking hands with college reps – just didn’t happen in 2020.  The colleges created a wide range of virtual options and used their students and alumni as ambassadors. We welcomed many reps from schools that don’t usually travel to the mid-Atlantic: hello, UC-Davis, San Diego State, and UMich, to name a few. As a result, BL’s “2021 College List”, that read-out of all the schools our seniors will attend as freshmen, is as rich and diverse as ever. Perhaps more so.

The college counseling office pivoted along with our colleagues on the college side. After we all became familiar with Zoom, we immediately tapped our experts – BL alums. We began “Monday Night Live”, weekly virtual panel discussions featuring former Lakers who shared their college experiences and answered questions with their characteristic candor and humor. Throughout the semester we held daily/nightly Zoom calls with small groups, with individual students, and with families.

With virtual college essay writing workshops and mandatory sessions with their counselors in August, the class of 2021 was ready to go as application season heated up on November 1 College counseling’s Abigail Baker communicated regularly with students and families about schedules and deadlines,  and attendance throughout our calendar of parent nights, special interest programs, and student seminars increased significantly.

The College Board also pivoted to first-ever online testing, which gave our guys the chance to show what they had accomplished and to potentially receive college credit.  While standardized testing was optional for the first time at many colleges, some families wanted to participate in this rite of passage. We were also able to secure Boys’ Latin as a certified testing site, allowing us to offer in-person ACT, SAT, and PSAT for students in grades 10 through 12.

We can’t wait to use all of the lessons we learned as we steward the Class of 2022 through the college admissions cycle.