College applications are being impacted by COVID— here’s what’s happening and how you can finish the school year strong.
By Milo Carr, Content & Social Media Editor
It’s been an interesting few months, and with school completely online, it’s safe to say this semester is not living up to expectations. Under normal circumstances, juniors would be touring college campuses, taking their SATs, and trying to finish the semester on a high note. But with postponed tests and closed campuses, there’s been a bit of worry and confusion on how that’s going to impact junior college applications.
The good news is that colleges understand that extraordinary circumstances warrant extraordinary application processes. As many students may already know, most colleges have become test optional, allowing you to opt out of providing ACT and SAT test scores, so students shouldn’t fret too much about the SAT. For those who still want to take the test, the College Board has opened registration for the last four months of 2020. Though it’s unclear whether these tests will be online or in person, the College Board will update students whenever an official decision is made— and from the information currently available, it looks like students will be taking the SAT in person.
But grades are just one worry for students. Many juniors understand that applications aren’t any one thing; colleges look at grades, test scores, and community service, all of which has been greatly affected by COVID-19. If one is worried that admissions officers are going to look at their GPA this semester and wince, hopefully they’ll be calmed by knowing that because this is a global thing, colleges will understand if a student’s grades weren’t exemplary this semester. But what if this is the semester a student was counting on for their application? What if they were waiting until now to get their community service hours or to really boost their GPA? Well, that is a bit of a predicament. Not to worry though, there’s still plenty of time and options for students to earn community service hours. As a result of the pandemic, there are more people in need of help than ever. When it comes to grades, as mentioned before, most colleges are going to be looking at the circumstances surrounding each application. So as long as students at least try to maintain their grades, they’ll be good to go. Even if a student can’t find the motivation to try, they shouldn’t beat themselves up too badly. It’s going to work out in the end. If one is still worried about how an individual college will be handling these circumstances, many schools are hosting online information sessions that are a Zoom link away.
There’s one final difficult element of all this that can’t be remedied by a quick email or online information session. Campus visits. Location of campus is extremely important to many students, and it’s difficult for a student to decide if they’ll like living somewhere by only participating in a virtual tour or scrolling through Google Images. To deal with that, students will have to rely on gut instinct and the assurances of alumni.
But no matter what, everything should turn out fine. If a student is still worried about some aspect of their college application, they should contact their counselor or attend a Q&A session hosted by one of the colleges they plan to apply to.