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College Admissions in a Time of Coronavirus

Written By: Rebecca Hill - Director of College Counseling

While trying to juggle a learn-from-home schedule that may last two weeks or several months, the last thing on many high school juniors’ and seniors’ minds is college admissions. Yet, the way that COVID-19 develops in the United States will not only have an impact on admissions decisions this year, but also the upcoming admissions cycle, and likely for many years to come.

Impact on Seniors

If you are a senior who has already been accepted into colleges, but wanted to attend Admitted Students day or participate in a campus tour in person before making a final decision, I’m afraid you are out of luck, as most of these events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. However, you can email your school counselor and ask to be put in touch with recent alums who attend or have attended these schools to determine if the match is right for you. Take advantage of the virtual tours provided by the school, and remember that both official and student-run social media accounts at the colleges can provide great insight into campus life.

If you’re still waiting to hear back from colleges, keep in mind that the process of admissions decisions has been slowed down in areas with high coronavirus activity. No standards of admission have changed, though, and some universities are extending decision day to give students more time to consider their offer.

Waitlisted at your dream school? Please do write a passionate letter of continued interest, highlighting your accomplishments since submitting your application and maybe sharing what you’re doing to stay intellectually active and creatively productive during your time out of school. We anticipate that more students will get off of the waitlist this year due to more students, particularly international students, rejecting offers of admission.

Impact on Juniors

Teachers have told you since day one of 9th grade that junior year matters the most for college. That might not be 100% true this year. It would not surprise us if Common Application asks a question in the upcoming application cycle about how many weeks your junior year was interrupted or if your school changed spring grading to Pass/Fail. Not all students will experience great disruptions to their studies, but there will be enough variance among schools around the country that colleges will rely more heavily on other factors–such as letters of recommendation–to help steer their admissions decision. Even if you don’t meet with your teachers physically for the rest of this semester, make sure to keep up good online communication with them!

Another major concern is the standardized tests. While you should still prepare to take your primary (SAT, ACT) and secondary (AP, SAT Subject Tests, CLEP) preferably before the start of senior year, keep a close eye on the testing agencies website as well as any local testing center change information from Clayborne. Although it is still too early in the season to predict, we have a hunch colleges will offer more flexible standardized test options this year than ever before.

Long-term Benefits

Although we don’t yet know what the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 virus will be on higher education overall, we do know that using unprecedented time to think about where you want to go next can yield great ideas–journal about them, explore then the internet, research down rabbit holes. Few high school students in recent history have had the luxury of slowing down, as we are required to do now, to really reflect on what they want to do with their talents and assets. If you have an epiphany or two, and want to talk it through further, I’d love to set up an online chat with you about making a plan to see your dreams into action.

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