College prep nonprofit identifies different pathways | Local

While the negative consequences of COVID-19 – especially those affecting education – have been numerous, some changes made during the pandemic have been for the better according to Palouse Pathways, a local organization that helps students plan their studies and their career.

The non-profit organization, which will resume the in-person events next week, offers a range of services from hosting peer study groups and opportunities for students to connect with top colleges to help with university entrance exams.

Palouse Pathways director Peggy Jenkins said some features of the pandemic and associated closings have been beneficial for the students it serves and are likely to stay on when the pandemic subsides. She said in particular that the rapid adoption of teleconferencing software for hosting meetings and other functions has enabled Palouse Pathways to connect students to colleges and universities they have never worked with before.

“It has brought us a lot more universities and other professionals thanks to Zoom,” she said. “We had so many opportunities to connect with different colleges and different (experts) for SAT prep or essay writing – and they reached out to us.”

Jenkins said attendance at Palouse Pathways events can range from a handful of participants to groups of up to 50, from across the region, from Lewiston to Potlatch. She said holding events through Zoom has widened that reach, with some attendees connecting from other parts of the state or even the country. She said many colleges and universities have said this type of virtual programming is here to stay.

Another benefit of the pandemic, Jenkins said, is that it has led many colleges to remove their requirement that incoming students take an entrance exam like the SAT or ACT. She said this helped “de-emphasis” these tests, which are a poorer indicator of professional and university success than the grade point average and other measures. She said that while they can be beneficial for some, entrance exams are also often a major barrier for groups like low-income, black or rural students.

Similar to the adoption of teleconferencing software, she said this trend towards no-test or optional-test application processes for colleges and universities has been in the works for some time, but that it had been accelerated by the pandemic.

Still, Jenkins said she looks forward to picking up the events in person.

“I think in general there’s so much Zoom fatigue that bringing people back to stuff in person is really going to help motivate and inspire (students),” she said. “It’s really a community of people and it’s really a lot easier to be a community when you can be in person. “

Ian Schlater, who will be a junior in Moscow high school next year, said he has been participating in Palouse Pathways events since his first year, and it has been extremely helpful in putting him in touch with colleges and professionals who can answer his questions about college. Although the program is popular, Schlater surmised that the reason many students do not participate is simply because they are unaware of the existence of Palouse Pathways.

“I think it’s good for anyone to be a part of this program – it really put me in touch with a lot of people that I would never have been in contact with before,” Schlater said. “First of all, there is a great community that we have there… there are at least 20 or 30 fairly active participants in the group and they are all motivated and really interested in learning – it’s a strong group. of people to be around with. :

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