Access College Foundation: Prepare now for pandemic inducedchanges for college in 2021

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The complicated process of applying for college has a new complication: COVID-19.  In an effort to get one step ahead of the virus the Access College Foundation is calling on parents and students to do their collective homework now, before it’s too late for 2021.

Access College Foundation, the non-profit founded by late philanthropists Frank Batten Sr. and Joshua Darden, has paved the way for 73,000 low-income Hampton Roads high school students to enroll in the nation’s colleges and universities.

At 32 years old, Access is focused on getting the region’s youth prepared for pandemic-era higher education.

Arthur Kelly, an Access advisor at Norfolk’s Lake Taylor High School, has a guiding principle for how to proceed during the pandemic.

“We’re are looking at the year 2020 through 2020 vision; that’s the only way we can look at this year is with 2020 vision,” said Kelly, a Newport News native. Kelly is using every socially safe tool in his arsenal to spread the word about the changes that have taken place as the nation remains in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.

Access College Foundation founders the late Frank Batten Sr. and the late Joshua Darden with the late Gov. Gerald Baliles (Photo courtesy: Access College Foundation) Arthur Kelly with Access Scholar Heiress Darby(Photo courtesy: Arthur Kelly)The former college admissions officer even has a Mr. Kelly app. “It’s very student-friendly, they can click on if they are trying to take the SAT, they can click on that if they are trying to find information about colleges. We have a college navigator link there,” Kelly said.

Arthur Kelly with Access Scholars Amya (Va. Tech) and Nadia (ODU)(Photo courtesy: Arthur Kelly)

Because of the pandemic, some colleges and universities have waived the SAT exam requirement and some schools have adopted rolling admissions. “You can get into schools with just your GPA and obviously the supplementals like the resume and essay,” Kelly said.

Related: Local colleges, universities launch COVID-19 dashboards
College COVID-19-style has changed the academic landscape across the country. Not only have athletic programs been cut, but many schools have also cut academic programs and personnel. According to the New York Times, so far the pandemic has cost higher education $120 billion.

Arthur Kelly speaks with students at 2018 Access College Scholarship Luncheon (Photo courtesy: Arthur Kelly)Deadlines and application fees vary, and Kelly recommends parents complete the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, by November 15, 2020. “It became available on October 1 and you definitely want to get it in as soon as possible because typically because it’s first-come, first-serve, especially when it comes to things like state aid,” Kelly said.

Arthur Kelly celebrates with students at College Commitment Day 2019 (Photo courtesy: Arthur Kelly)Earlier in the pandemic, WAVY-TV 10 reported Access College Foundation was concerned about a shortfall in funding.  Executive Director Bonnie Sutton told WAVY-TV 10 12 major donors and board members recently contributed to a new fund that assures Access College Foundation will be able to help hundreds of college-bound Hampton Roads teenagers over the next three years.