High school seniors reflect on year of remote learning

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 8:03 AM EDT
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FAIR HAVEN, Vt. (WCAX) - College students in our region start school Monday and that has some rising high school seniors thinking about applying to school themselves.

Hayden Bernhardt is a rising high school senior at Otter Valley Union High School. He is looking at small colleges in New England. His first choice is Bates College in Maine.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I definitely really want to get in there,” said Bernhardt.

Like many high school seniors, Bernhardt was fully remote at the end of his sophomore year and learned through a hybrid model during his junior year.

“I did fairly well with the remote. I was able to stay motivated,” said Bernhardt.

Rutland High School Guidance Counselors Meghan Carroccia and Jennifer Pros say high schools send colleges a school profile, explaining the learning models they used during the pandemic.

“We are expecting that colleges are going to take that into consideration that education looked much different the past year and a half than it ever has before and obviously it is going to impact student achievement levels in many ways,” said Pros.

Learning loss is a big concern for rising seniors since they were not physically in school for much of last year. Some schools have estimated learning loss at 30%-50%.

The Common App, an application most colleges use, now has a COVID-19 question for students and guidance counselors to explain any negative impacts the shift to online learning had on a student’s progress and grades.

But some students say they thrived in online learning.

“No, I’m not nervous at all. I feel like I did better when I was online. I feel like I really felt comfortable at home,” said Luke Williams, a senior at Fair Haven Union High School.

And many colleges are not requiring SAT and ACT test scores.

“Taking tests, like the SAT, that was hard this last year, so I will probably be going test-optional,” said Fairley Olson, a senior at Middlebury Union High School.

But these tests are a way to gauge how much a student has learned this past year.

Jessica Vivian is a counselor for grades 7-12 in the Windsor School District. She says there is still time to test.

“I certainly encourage taking your SATs and then deciding what you want to do with your scores,” said Vivian.

The pandemic was challenging, but Bernhardt says knowing he has another year to be back in school makes him feel more prepared. Going straight to college from online learning would have been tough.

“You’re going from getting up in the morning and going into advisory on your phone, still in your bed, to having to bike to class and be in a whole room with a bunch of people,” said Bernhardt.

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