Darlington is continuing a tradition of helping students prepare for college, even during a pandemic where travel is limited and many events have become virtual.

On the first day of school, Darlington does a “college boot camp.” Seniors meet with representatives from different colleges and go over what the admissions office is looking for in applications and essays, as well as what to look for when touring campuses.

This year’s boot camp went almost the same way, except students met with the representatives and admissions staff over Zoom. Students had the option to pick up to two colleges to meet with, where they virtually “visited” with the college to get an idea of what it’s like.

“That went really well, despite the new territory,” Ivy Brewer said.

Brewer is the associate dean of college guidance at Darlington and has helped organize the virtual visits for students with colleges all over the country and even some outside the country.

“Right now we have appointments with different colleges every day for the month of September,” she said. “And October has three spaces left for college visit days.”

During the month, the students can pick which colleges they would like to meet with and set up appointments through Brewer.

On Oct. 12, Darlington seniors will be participating in a virtual college fair set up by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. The students will use their daily community time and study time to attend the virtual event over Zoom.

“Of course with COVID-19, you can’t have 450 kids with 200 college representatives in a gym — that’s just not safe,” Brewer said. “On the upside, colleges that don’t normally travel to Rome, Georgia, will be at that national fair.”

This includes colleges like the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Princeton University, Syracuse University, University of Limerick in Ireland, Penn State University and Perdue University.

“The fair is really exciting, but it’s just one piece of how we’re trying to give access to our students, but in a safe and virtual way,” Brewer said.

Brewer went on to say that, despite the circumstances, the students have enjoyed talking to the college representatives and learning how to make themselves stand out while applying. The representatives have also been very understanding of the students and how they’re not able to do their usual extracurricular activities during the pandemic.

“It’s a comfort for students to hear that from the actual people who will be reviewing their applications,” Brewer said. “So while of course we all want it to go back to normal, I think they’re just pleased that they still have a level of access.”

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