To answer the Covid-19 question on Common App? Or no?

We realize that this may not qualify, and it is not being used as an excuse to explain poor academic performance (that didn’t happen). But there were certainly unusual circumstances, and kid came through with flying colors, showing persistence and independent self-reliance. Kid says it doesn’t matter, no one wants to hear about it, others had family members get sick and die, he feels he should leave it blank.

Mother is on treatment for lymphoma (totally immunosuppressed), so kid had to fly 2000 miles away immediately after school closed, to live with 23 yr old brother in his small one bedroom unit, in order to avoid going on 100% isolation. Kid did have good internet access and a computer. Brother was an essential worker, working 65 hours/week in the bedroom, so if kid wanted food in the house, had to put on a backpack and hoof it a mile to the stores and carry it back, and prepare it. Kid kept up with heavy honors/AP courseload, continued with very high-level music program (went online), found himself a practice space for him and his noisy brass instrument (a home renovation company’s garage, which he could use after hours). We joked that after this, going away to college would be a breeze. Kid has lived with friends or in our walled off basement ever since.

I think it’s relevant. Kid thinks it’s entitled, when some people had much worse happen. Opinions, please?

I don’t think it’s entitled at all, rather, it shows maturity. I’d definitely include it, acknowledging that while the circumstances weren’t ideal, he continued to persevere. :smile:

Here is the advice from a college admissions professional. Read the final paragraph in the original post:

I think you have to leave it to your son to decide.

ETA: Do good grades needs to be explained during a crisis? The fact that he maintained good grades speaks for itself. I don’t have an answer, just adding another perspective.

Thanks. Yes, that thread is invaluable. It’s not an excuse essay - there was really nothing needing excuse, and that’s not the focus of it. The focus is that kid had to leave home at age 16 (although still has parental involvement and support, obviously) and live under less-than-ideal circumstances, and handled it all well. Fact is, it was very hard for him to stay motivated, but that’s not his point. It would be a “just the facts” response.

@parentologist IMO a “just the facts” response is appropriate. While there are students who go away from home for high school, it’s different while in the middle of a pandemic, and I think it’s important to provide context. However, it’s your kid’s choice at the end of the day, as he’s the one who needs to actually write the application. :lol:

I know it’s not an excuse essay, but I am not sure it’s necessary–at all. I’m very sorry to hear about your son’s mom, also. I hope she is doing better.

Again, I think you have to let him decide, but I lean towards no. Here’s why:
“less-than-ideal circumstances, and handled it all well”… shouldn’t that be the norm?
“hard for him to stay motivated”…isn’t that true of most kids?

I’m playing devil’s advocate, but why should he give just the facts about doing what he should have been doing? In general, a kid who has great grades and is still able to play his musical instrument doesn’t have much to explain compared to some kids. The kids who maintain their good grades and still had to work in the grocery store to help support the family during the worst of this pandemic might be the kids who could be expected to fill in the covid supplement. There are other examples, of course.

I do think that it is valid for his guidance counselor to mention in the letter of rec that his mom is afflicted with cancer and that he had to move out of state to live with a relative. Those types of issues are often best mentioned in those circumstances. He can ask the GC if it should be included.

I totally agree with you. Kids who are applying from boarding school clearly can be expected to have a different level of independence than kids who lived at home. But boarding schools do provide support - study halls, practice spaces, counselors, etc. He had none of this, plus a lot of responsibilities he would normally not have had.

Boarding school isn’t relevant here. I honestly think you must let your son decide.

I keep thinking of the old folks’ story, which takes the general theme of “when I was your age, I had to walk to school in a snow storm…” Good for your son having to man up quickly and walk a mile to the store. I just don’t see that he deserves extra points for what he’s had to do, but perhaps I am cynical. If I were an AO, and I’m not, would I perhaps wonder what the goal would be of offering up these facts?

No idea what schools he is applying to, but he could perhaps make a nice supplemental essay from this circumstance.

I agree to let the son decide and if wants to write about it, why not put it in the additional info section, rather than the covid essay?

Yeah, when I was that age I would have been thrilled to get to go off to live with my older sister - but I also wouldn’t have done a lick of work. The point is that kid kept going full speed on heavy workload plus heavy extracurricular, right through unusual circumstances. Clearly, he’s got better executive functioning than either of his parents! But it’s very helpful to have the feedback. Thank you.

I do think that school counselor intends to mention this in her letter, so maybe kid should just leave it blank.