Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Whether you are more of the “doomsday prepper” type or think this is all overblown, there’s no denying that Coronavirus is a hot topic right now. We decided it was probably a good time to revisit our cancellation policy to ensure that we are providing the best possible service in the best possible environment!

Coronavirus College Counseling Update

Client Cancellation Policy

As our clients know from their contracts, we have a strict 48-hour cancellation policy – for any reason. However, we’re not doing this to be mean; in fact, we actually this policy in place to help our students.

Since we are dealing with teenagers (who often-times have 123,352 better things to be doing than writing their college essays), we can’t make it too easy to call in sick. This is particularly the case because so much of our strategy involves helping our students complete excellent work on a specific timeline.

Not only does this help each incentivize each individual student to uphold their commitments, it also helps the client base as a whole. Imagine if we had 5-10 students canceling meetings each week at the last minute for social obligations or other completely avoidable reasons. This would mean that 5-10 other students were blocked from booking those meetings.

Truly, this impacts everyone. After a decade of running a business with a high-school-age client base, we are 100% confident that this type of policy is best for everyone.

This Doesn’t Mean Show Up Sick!

It is fine to come with a cold, but students who are contagious cannot attend in-person meetings. We mostly follow Fairfax County Public Schools’ sick policy. If you have a fever, you are contagious and you should not be here.

One exception where we do NOT follow FCPS policy is with head lice. Knock on wood, I don’t think any of our clients have had head lice before while working with us, but just in case – do not come here with head lice!

Additionally, if CDC recommendations are more stringent than FCPS recommendations, we will follow those. For example, as of today (March 5), the CDC recommends 14 days of self-quarantine after traveling from Italy. FCPS does not; we will go with the CDC. Please let us know immediately if you have been to any of the countries on the CDC list or have had contact with anyone that has.

No Wasted Time

Students who are contagious or quarantined but still fine to complete work should simply switch their in-person meetings to remote ones. We hold remote meetings via Zoom, which is a video chat tool that also allows for super-easy screen sharing when working on essays, applications, and other documents. It’s like skype, but better! If you would prefer to switch a planned in-person meeting to a remote meeting for any reason, just email Rebeccah and she’ll take care of it for you. Please CC Colleen and your coach (if applicable) as well so that we can make sure that very-last-minute requests are not missed.

If you are truly too sick to work over Zoom, we will take the hour of time that you reserved and put it towards something else beneficial! We will never bill you for twiddling our thumbs during a missed appointment! Instead, we’ll take your reserved time and spend it doing something useful that doesn’t require direct student interaction. Maybe it’s plotting out a strategy and outline for repurposing specific essay content for individual school prompts; maybe it’s reviewing work that has already been completed; maybe it’s performing research for program-specific questions to ask an interviewer.. there are typically quite a few things we can do!

Snow Day Policy = Public Health Risk Policy

If for some reason Fairfax County Public Schools needs to close because of a public health risk, we’ll just jump right to our snow day policy. All meetings will be automatically canceled and we’ll contact you to reschedule. We may decide it’s fine for our office to remain open on a case by case basis, and we’ll contact you to give you the option to come in if you desire in that scenario. If you choose not to come, there will not be a cancellation penalty.

Upholding Our Own Standards

We’d also like to share an update to our team member sick policy, given the current landscape. We absolutely hate canceling meetings, because we know what an impact it has on our clients. Even though we try as hard as possible to avoid this, sometimes there’s just no way around it if we want to maintain a healthy office environment. So, not only will we hold our staff to the same health guidelines as students, but we’ll also hold ourselves to the same cancellation penalty if we have to be the ones to cancel.

If Fairfax County Public Schools are open but a member of our staff is contagious or quarantined with less than 48-hours notice, here’s what will happen:

  1. We’ll first try to switch to a Zoom meeting, if the team member can meet remotely.

  2. If that’s not possible, we’ll try to find a different team member to step in. This may require switching to a Zoom meeting, but we’ll do our absolute best to find a different coach to substitute if the meeting involves a coach. We will not assign substitutes for meetings with Colleen.

  3. If we can’t offer a remote meeting or a substitute, your next hour of work with us will be free. One catch: you do have to spend that initial time block doing something productive relating to the college admissions process 🙂

Double-Check Spring Break College Trip Plans

This isn’t about our own office, but given what may be ahead, it’s wise to start thinking now about what will happen if colleges close as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, but you still need to try to squeeze in those visits. You will likely have to identify a few other days this spring to be able to visit while schools are in session.

Double-Check Standardized Test Cancellations

It’s possible that the College Board or ACT will need to cancel upcoming SAT or ACT administrations, as they have already done in other countries, as a result of Coronavirus. Typically, when tests are canceled in the United States, makeup dates are provided. Please monitor your email carefully in case you are impacted by a cancellation.


Please, please, please!

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