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Free program provides college counseling for high schoolers, resources for educators

Hundreds of thousands of high school students lost in-person access to their frontline advisers for college admissions when school districts had to opt for remote learning this fall.

Collegewise, the nation’s largest college admissions counseling organization, recognized the need to provide a solution and developed Runway, a series of online college planning programs and resources available free of charge.

Runway is designed to provide the resources that underclassmen need to move forward on their college planning journeys through videos, guides and monthly newsletters with reminders for important deadlines.

Seniors will have access to a step-by-step comprehensive program, “The Collegewise Course for How to Apply to College in 2020.”

The course keeps things focused and simple, with college counselors mapping out every step of applying to college from determining good value colleges to applying for fee waivers to filling out applications effectively. There will also be resources for schools and school counselors to help them provide additional support to students during remote learning.

As colleges shift admissions policies to adjust to the impact of the pandemic, parents and students have more questions about test optional policies, grades, activities, what will be required by colleges for admission, financial aid and gap years.

Counselors are having to field these questions through email and video calls while staying abreast of the constantly evolving admissions policies.

School counselors already play a vital role in students applying for financial aid and attending college. But even when students are in school, counselors are stretched thin by high student to counselor ratios and broad responsibilities that only allow counselors to spend about 21% of their time on postsecondary education planning, according to research amassed by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

“COVID has turned every aspect of higher education upside down and inside out,” said Casey Near, executive director of counseling at Collegewise. “The college admissions process can be stressful for students and a challenge to navigate under normal circumstances. In the midst of these challenges, we knew that Collegewise had an opportunity to help. With our wide range of counselor expertise, ability to keep things focused and fun and sense of the broader admission landscape, we knew we could offer broad support quickly. In particular, we recognized the immediate need of providing college admission support specifically for the class of 2021, while offering guidance and resources to support educators and keep underclassmen on track.”

Students, parents, counselors and school administrators interested in utilizing the free Runway tools can sign up at http://go.collegewise.com/runway.

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