High school seniors across the nation are navigating an unprecedented college admissions landscape as COVID-19 persists into the winter application season.

Many defining aspects of college admissions — including standardized tests, grade point averages and extracurricular activities — have been affected or inhibited by the health crisis, making the already daunting process of applying to college even more uncertain.

With Palo Alto High School’s transition to distance learning, the College and Career Center, Paly’s post-high school planning department, has admirably adapted to the unfamiliar circumstances to continue giving students the college admissions guidance they need.


The C&CC has risen above their call of duty to ensure that every senior’s hub for advice and answers is just a few clicks away.


“Technology has been the most challenging,” said Sandra Cernobori, one of the two C&CC advisors.

The process of moving all senior meetings to Zoom has not been easy for Cernobori and Janet Cochrane, the other college advisor. However, the Calendly scheduling tool — which allows students to check real-time advisor availability, sign up for appointments and receive an automatic confirmation and Zoom link — was an innovative solution to help in facilitating connection for Paly students.

“I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to schedule an appointment [with the C&CC],” senior Diego Mazzon said. “I was surprised at how easy it was to meet with my college advisor.”

According to a survey conducted by Verde Magazine, many seniors like Mazzon were able to utilize the C&CC’s resources this year from the comfort of their own homes.

In the survey, nearly 80% of respondents reported using resources from the College and Career Center during their application process.

With Common App essay writing guides, standardized testing updates, notifications of scholarships and virtual college visits and technical “How To” application videos included in the C&CC Schoology course, the C&CC has risen above their call of duty to ensure that every senior’s hub for advice and answers is just a few clicks away.

To better cater to the needs of senior students, the C&CC has also adjusted the advisory system.

“Because of the stresses and concerns students were having about applying this year, we added more senior advisories at the beginning of the school year and added an advisory about gap years and community colleges, which we typically haven’t had,” Cernobori said.

Verde would like to express our gratitude to Paly’s hardworking and flexible college advisors and C&CC team, who have allowed seniors to continue utilizing the C&CC’s valuable resources during this intimidating and significant time in their lives.

Source: The data presented here comes from an opt-in Verde Magazine survey of 136 Palo Alto High School students from all four grades. Verde conducted the survey from Nov. 19 to Nov. 24 through a digital form published on school social media and Schoology pages. Responses were anonymous and participation for all questions was optional.

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