College Admissions in the Time of COVID-19
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
The college admissions process is already tough - between juggling application deadlines and requirements, procuring recommendations, scheduling testing and transcripts, it's overwhelming for most families - and that doesn't even factor in the dreaded FAFSA. Throw in a global pandemic, and this year, it's more chaotic than ever.
Luckily, colleges have chosen to adjust their admissions processes to accommodate the every-changing educational landscape in which we currently live. Here are some of the changes we are seeing this season:
Most schools are offering a test-optional policy this year, which if I'm being honest, has always needed to happen. I appreciate the need for a unifying standard, but the pressure of having the "right" ACT score undermines the holistic review of an application. A couple of things to note, however: if you opt not to include your scores, and you end up actually being able to take one in the fall, you can still submit your scores to your schools for consideration. However, you cannot submit your scores then opt to be test-optional. The bottom line is mainly that if they have your scores, they are going to use them.
Universities are being more flexible on high school class offerings knowing that distance learning impacts student course schedules.
You are going to find more writing supplements in this years' applications. Not only do schools need to use these as a litmus test to find out more about you, your character, and your aptitude, but many are also providing a space for you to elaborate on how the pandemic has affected your education and your life.
The application deadlines still remain the same as previous years. Be sure to get your application in before the Early Action deadline, aka November 1, if you want to be considered for the majority of merit-based scholarships.
Even though in-person campus visits and tours are suspended, you still need to arrange for a virtual visit for each of your schools. Many colleges also offer online workshops and Q & A sessions with their admissions department and academic departments to help foster connections between students and the university. Take advantage of those!
All that being said, seize this moment of disruption of the status quo. Higher education and the admissions process was long overdue for a major overhaul, and this pandemic presents a great opportunity to get into some schools that previously might not have been attainable. Remember that everyone is in the same boat and that colleges, high schools, testing organizations, and students alike are facing the challenges day-to-day and making the best decisions with what information is available. If you need help guiding you through this process, reach out and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!