A “decision day” like no other

Written by
Sabina Haskell

May 1, 2020


Decision Day like no other

Today is May 1. It's the traditional Decision Day for high school seniors. If that’s you, this is the day you’ve been planning for, for most of your high school years. May 1 is the day you typically must commit to the school of your choice and pay your deposit to hold a place for next fall.

Except for this year. In the age of COVID-19, high school seniors and families are, understandably, facing enormous uncertainty.

To the Seniors of VermontIt’s not that you don’t want to continue your education. You do. And you should. The question is, what is that education going to look like in the near future?It’s safe to say none of us knows.

But here’s what we do know: More than 99% of the jobs created in the last decade were filled by workers with some education beyond high school. And two-thirds of the jobs of the future will require more than a high school diploma.

So you have to continue your education after high school, somehow. But like everything right now, nothing is going to go exactly according to the original plan. It is entirely expected (and acceptable!) to adjust your plans and goals. To pivot a bit to meet this new reality. And many colleges, knowing students are wrestling with their decisions, have moved the date by which you have to reply back by weeks or even a month.

Consider your options, whatever stage you're in for college and career training. Because you DO have options. Here are some resources to help you navigate ahead.

Revisit financial aid offers as you decide:

If you’re still deciding between schools, take another look at financial aid offers to be sure you understand the details and how they match up with your current situation. We’ve broken the process down to make it easier:

If your family’s financial circumstances have changed, be sure to contact the school to make them aware of your updated situation. And contact VSAC to let us know, too—applicants for the Vermont grant can use estimated income for 2020 to better reflect any changes to employment status as a result of the current crisis. Learn more about VSAC's resources for students and families who are impacted by the changes due to COVID-19 here.

For a personal view on college decisions, listen to the discussion on VPR on how to navigate financial aid letters, with input from a high school senior and a VSAC counselor.

Last minute what-ifs and questions: Which colleges have changed their deadlines? Find them here. Looking for a virtual tour? Visit more than 1,000 schools online

Our goal is to help you choose the best education for your situation for the lowest cost possible. Read this blog for more tips as you decide.

The “new” gap experience: for exploration of careers and study?

There will be those of you who may want to hit pause on a traditional college education until things are more certain. Or you might be considering applying to a different program ... for the short-term. That’s OK. It doesn’t mean your learning needs to falter or that you can’t move ahead. View this an opportunity for a thoughtful year (or semester) to explore various fields of study and different job and career options, perhaps closer to home. Through internships, project-based learning and online courses—maybe even volunteering in work that interests you—you can design an experience to refine your skills and academics for a successful future.

You are already showing you have what it takes.

We’re not saying this next year is going to be easy. Or a clear path. Or without its disappointments. This isn’t going to be a cookie-cutter carefree summer and fall in which seniors, or any students heading back to college or training, simply cross off the required to-dos, pay a deposit, pack their bags, and head to the classroom.

This year is going to require real-world skills of being able to change direction as needed, adapt to new circumstances, and continually reassess the priorities for your next steps. It’s what is called being “agile” in the workforce world. And it is perhaps the most important lesson you’ll learn this coming year. Because in the real sphere of jobs and careers, nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. Change is the one constant. How you choose to react to change, bringing your best self and skills to the table, makes the difference in what comes next. And it is what you actually have control of.

These are some of the “soft skills” that will help you through the rest of your life. No doubt you didn’t want that lesson right now. But given the disappointments you are already grappling with—from missed events, in-person ceremonies, and traditional sendoffs—it’s already clear you have it in you to adapt and move forward. And to bring your creativity, energy, talents, and enthusiasm with you.

We know you can do this. And, always remember that you aren’t alone. We're all in it together. VSAC, along with your teachers, mentors, community, and family, is here to help you as you figure out your next steps.

VSAC’s commitment to you remains unwavering despite the uncertainty.

Serving our community is at the heart of all we do. During this challenging time, as always, we remain available and committed to our mission of helping Vermonters navigate all their career and education needs. We can be reached by phone at 800-642-3177, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and online at info@vsac.org. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch!