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La Plume – Keystone College has joined 350 other colleges and universities across the country by signing a collective statement that sends a clear message about what college admissions officers value in prospective students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement, “Care Counts in Crisis: College Admissions Deans Respond to COVID 19,” has been created by the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Its goal is to provide guidance on self-care, academic work, service to others, family contributions, and extracurricular and summer activities and relieve stress on students and their caregivers. The statement has received national media coverage, including being featured in a recent segment of Good Morning America.

“Students and parents understandably have many questions about what college admissions deans are expecting during this time of the pandemic and there’s all sorts of misinformation swirling around,” said Richard Weissbourd, faculty director of Making Caring Common. “This statement seeks to answer these questions, to dispel the fog of misinformation, and to affirm the deans’ commitment to meaningful learning, equity, and care for self and others.”

Specifically, the statement addresses the following concerns regarding prospective college students:

Self-Care. The deans recognize that many families during this time are struggling to get by and that a wide range of students are dealing with stresses of many kinds. The statement encourages students to take care of themselves.

Academic Work. While the deans emphasize that students’ academic work matters to them during the pandemic, they also recognize that many students are facing obstacles to academic work. The deans underscore they will assess academic achievements in the context of these obstacles, and mainly base assessments of academic achievement on work before and after this pandemic. They further state that no student will be disadvantaged because “of their school’s decisions about transcripts, the absence of AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) tests, their lack of access to standardized tests (although many of the colleges represented here don’t require these tests), or their inability to visit campus.”

Service and Contributions to Others. The deans express they value contributions to others and service during this time for those who are in a position to provide these contributions. They emphasize they are not looking or extraordinary forms of service or leadership during the pandemic. They don’t want to create a “pandemic service Olympics.” They are looking for contributions that are authentic and meaningful, including contributions that respond to the many needs created by the pandemic.

Family Contributions. The deans recognize many students have family responsibilities, including supervising younger siblings, caring for sick relatives, or working to provide family income that can impede their capacity to engage in school and other activities, and that these responsibilities may have increased during this time. They view substantial family contributions as very important and encourage students to report them in their applications.

Extracurricular and Summer Activities. The deans convey that no student will be disadvantaged for not engaging in extracurricular activities during this time, and they state that students will not be disadvantaged for lost possibilities for summer involvement, including lost internship opportunities, summer jobs, camp experiences, classes, and other types of meaningful engagement that have been cancelled or altered.

For the full statement and additional information, visit Making Caring Common, www.makingcaringcommon.org.

“Keystone College has participated in the Making Caring Count project for a few years and this particular initiative is a way of expressing that colleges and universities recognize the obstacles students face in their lives, particularly during this difficult time,” said Keystone President Tracy L. Brundage, Ph.D. “We want our students and prospective students to know that we value the ‘whole person’ and we will support them and help overcome any challenges and obstacles they may encounter.”