Monthly Archives: October 2020

Fellowship Opportunities in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks – THE DIRT

Dumbarton Oaks, a Harvard University research institute, library, museum, and garden in Washington, D.C., has a number of fellowships open to landscape architecture academia and practitioners focused on race, democracy, and urban landscapes. For those who seek to conduct innovative research while social distancing in a more inspired setting — a serene garden designed by…
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Congratulations!! You’re a high school senior and planning for college!!

How exactly are you going to be sure you make the right decision, if you can’t do the normal college search activities like college visits, open houses, staying in the dorms and sitting in on a class? Admittedly some of those options are off the table in  their traditional format this fall and probably next spring.

But high school guidance offices and college admissions offices are working hard to give you the best opportunities to get to know the colleges you are considering.

College visits to high schools have gone virtual via Zoom or Google Meet. Admissions offices are holding virtual admissions & financial aid 

Panels, discussions, admission in to online classes and even online College Fairs. I attended the Massachusetts State Universities’ College Fair last week via Zoom. I registered and selected the universities I wanted to talk to. When I entered the Zoom event, I just clicked on the logo of the university I wanted to talk to and asked my questions (or typed them in the chat). 

Some colleges are offering virtual live tours with student tour guides as well. There  are a few colleges and universities that are offering drive-through campus visits. While others are opening up limited in person campus visits: only 4 a day and only one student & one guest per visit.

In addition, here is a great website I  have been recommending  to my clients for years for  virtual college tours. 

So while COVID-19 has changed the manner in which students and families can get to know and get a feel for colleges, there are many opportunities to interact with college staff and students and to “see” the colleges and universities you are considering for your educational home for the next four years!


As high school seniors and recent college grads begin their college or grad school planning, one question I am getting from clients is, “What about the SAT/ACT? Do I have to take it?” or “Should I take the graduate exam?” Although the College Entrance Exams (SAT & ACT) or any number of Graduate Entrance Exams, (GRE,GMAT,LSAT,or MCAT anyone??) are not exactly extinct, the current environment has crippled the industry’s ability to schedule the tests and many colleges and grad schools are suspending the requirement for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

On the undergraduate level, colleges have been stepping away from requiring SAT or ACT test scores as part of the admissions process and making them optional  for over the last 10 to 15 years or so. In addition, each year colleges and universities are dropping the requirement all together. This trend has been a reaction to accusations that the tests are racially and socio-economically biased.  Enter COVID-19 and starting last Spring the College Board, which offers the SAT and ETS which offers the ACT, have had to cancel close test sites and cancel tests.The National Center for Fair & Open Testing ( states the two-thirds of US colleges and universities are test optional or test-blind for fall of  2021 applicants.

Similarly the many graduate schools have also decided to suspend the requirement to submit graduate exams as part of the graduate school admissions process for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. 

There are exceptions of course, especially in some competitive fields such as nursing, both on the undergrad and grad level.

If the undergraduate college or university graduate program to which you are applying is test optional, before you make your decision regarding scheduling your test there are a few things to consider.

  1. Do you or a family member have a health issue that makes you at risk for contracting COVID-19?
  2. Is the college test optional?
  3. Is the college test-blind? Meaning, if you take and submit your test scores will they be included in your application review or not?
  4. If students take the exam and you don’t, will you be at a disadvantage?
  5. What are the safety precautions being taken at the testing site?
  6. If you don’t take the exam, what can you do to strengthen your admissions application?

For a list of colleges that are test optional go to: