The road to college
By May S. Ruiz
Seniors are about to have their virtual graduation or have recently done so. Having spent the last semester of their high school sheltering in place, these teenagers have been looking forward to the loosening of the lockdown orders so they can finally get out of the house.
Businesses, though, are taking a cautious approach to reopening and there will be limited options for these young people on how to spend their summer months. In the past, teenagers went to summer camps, found internships, or joined organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Doctors Without Borders to do service work in impoverished areas of the world.
Those who had been anticipating to land summer jobs are going to be very disappointed. The coronavirus pandemic upended entire countries’ markets and wiped the economic expansion we had been enjoying here. Experts worldwide are predicting a recession that’s deeper and lengthier than what we saw during the financial meltdown of 2008.
While we don’t need Challenger, Gray & Christmas to tell us that teen summer jobs outlook this year is pretty grim, I’m including the report they recently released:
“Teen employment skyrocketed during the summer months of 2019 to the highest number of jobs added since 2001, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by global outplacement and executive and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. However, the global pandemic of COVID-19 has changed everything and total jobs added for teens may fall well under 1,000,000, according to one workplace authority.
“A month ago, we would have predicted another summer of massive teen hiring. We had one of the tightest labor markets on record, historically low unemployment, and high consumer confidence – the perfect recipe for companies that traditionally hire teen workers, like retail and entertainment venues, to beef up staff,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
“Everything has changed. Many of these venues have stopped operating as non-essential businesses with reopening timelines in question. Grocery and department stores that are on a hiring binge now come with an inherent risk that did not exist before the outbreak. If we are able to weather this crisis and get businesses back up and running by June, we may see a surge in teen hiring then, however, teen workers, as well as any job seeker, may be much more wary of accepting public-facing roles,” he added.
Last summer saw 1,737,000 jobs gained by teens, 25% higher than the 1,388,000 jobs gained by teenagers in the summer of 2018. This was the highest number of teen jobs gained since 2001, when 1,742,000 jobs were added.
However, many companies are in a holding pattern and thousands of others are not open for business at all. A recent Challenger survey found 37% of companies have instituted hiring freezes. Another 11% have implemented permanent layoffs and 49% are likely to in the next three months. Meanwhile, 4% report they are revoking internship offers for the summer, many of which tend to go to older teens.
Nearly 10 million workers have filed initial jobless claims over the last two weeks. Challenger predicts job losses in the Leisure sector alone could top 14 million.
“The teen summer job is the first step in people’s careers. It is vitally important to helping young workers gain valuable skills that they will draw upon later in their jobs. Many employers want to see some job experience from even their entry-level workers,” said Challenger.
“The year with the lowest summer hiring since 1998 occurred in 2010, during the recovery from the Great Recession, when 960,000 teen jobs were added in May, June, and July. This year may see even fewer as conservative estimates suggest businesses will likely still be closed for much or part of May,” he added.
The sheltering-at-home order caused an upheaval in all students’ regular schedule. It was tough for 9th graders who were just getting used to high school and the workload associated with it. Remote learning, although helpful in providing continuity in students’ education, could not replace what they would get in the classroom. However, I hope your children were able to keep up with their curriculum.
Some schools may have eliminated final exams and given pass or fail grades in lieu of the letter grades, which must have been a disappointment for straight-A students. But that shouldn’t deter them from continuing to get excellent grades because the student’s GPA is the single, most important component of their transcript. And with the UC system’s decision to drop the SATs and ACTs from their requirements, students’ GPAs have become ever more significant.
If your children can find summer enrichment activities, they should definitely pursue these. They also need to do a lot of reading to help them prepare for all the essays they will have to write when they start sending out their college application.
Your children’s end-of-year marks in 10th grade should have improved over last year’s if they didn’t do well in their freshman year. College admissions officers want to see students who continue to better themselves.
While the UC system has dropped the standardized test requirement, not all universities have. So your children need to take the virtual ACT or June SAT subject tests. This year the College Board eliminated the essay portion and the testing time has been shortened.
The school year that just ended was a pivotal one for your children as it would be the last full year that college admissions officers will see on your kids’ application. It should reflect your children’s efforts at getting the best marks they could muster, and an improvement over the first two years of high school.
This is going to be their busiest summer with standardized tests like the ACT, SAT, SAT IIs, and APs. If they have not seen the schools they are considering applying to, they might consider taking virtual tours.
Your children should start thinking about their essay topic; checking in with their school counselor to make sure they have taken all the required courses for graduation and college; and lining up teachers they would like to ask for recommendations.
It was a disappointing last year for students who were not able to properly say goodbye to their friends and teachers and didn’t get the opportunity to walk across the graduation stage. But I hope you watched their virtual commencement ceremony and celebrated at home with your graduate.
Your children have accomplished a major milestone – successfully completing high school and getting accepted into a college or university! This period in their life will never again be repeated, so let them revel in what they have achieved. Give yourself a pat on the back while you’re at it, you’ve been a major influence in whatever path they choose to take from here.