For L.A. students, distance learning brings new challenges to college applications

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Cynthia Medrano, a college counselor at an LAUSD charter school in Sun Valley, works remotely at her home in Woodland Hills in 2020. Like other counselors, Medrano adjusted how she interacted with students amid remote learning, setting up dozens of one-on-one meetings and texting, emailing and calling students to ensure they filled out their college applications. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Cynthia Medrano, a college counselor at an LAUSD charter school in Sun Valley, works remotely at her home in Woodland Hills in 2020. Like other counselors, Medrano adjusted how she interacted with students amid remote learning, setting up dozens of one-on-one meetings and texting, emailing and calling students to ensure they filled out their college applications. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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With the California State University application deadline less than a day away, John Marshall High School college counselor Tricia Bryan had one final push to make Monday. At least 40 of her students had begun an application to the CSU but had not completed it. She didn’t know why because she had not seen or heard from most of them.

“This whole thing is unpredictable — who’s applying, why they’re applying, who’s not applying, why they’re not applying,” Bryan said. “The one thing that’s for certain is, I’m dependent on whether or not they respond back to me…. I just have less access.”

This is the challenge hundreds of counselors and students are facing as they enter the final weeks of the college application process amid a remote learning environment, major changes to admissions policies and uncertainty about what higher education next fall will look like.

Even with counselors’ efforts to aggressively meet online with students and follow up by text, phone and email to check that their applications are on track, for many seniors, especially the underserved, virtual counseling has been no match for the drop-in, hub-of-activity role that high school college counseling offices provide.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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