College and Covid

Julia Collins, News Editor

COVID-19 has dramatically affected the lives of millions of nurses, doctors, teachers, senior citizens, but what about high school seniors? The college admissions process has been turned upside down. No campus visits. No in-person interviews. Limited SAT and ACT testing sites. So how will the Class of 2021 navigate the system?

Seniors are missing out on the opportunity to visit campuses and receive proper tours of their top-choice schools. Colleges and universities have adjusted to these unprecedented times by offering virtual sessions. Students have access to virtual tours, information sessions and interviews seemingly every week, which wasn’t available before this year. Mardell Maxwell, the executive director of admissions at the University of Houston, stated, “We have students all around the world that now easily come from wherever is convenient for them.” Even though these online experiences aren’t the same as being on a college campus, it is a great opportunity for seniors to hear and see the schools of their dreams. 

About 1,600 colleges have gone test optional for this admissions year. Harvard College announced, “[We] will allow students to apply for admission to the Class of 2025 without requiring standardized test scores. We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created insurmountable challenges in scheduling tests for all students, particularly those from modest economic backgrounds, and we believe this temporary change addresses these challenges.” College advisors have expressed that students who choose not to submit their test scores will not be penalized and their application will be treated fairly. Some colleges, such as the University of Delaware, require students who choose test optional to write supplemental essays. 

College admissions counselors revealed that they will be more focused on the personal essay and extracurriculars over standardized test scores. For many, this adjustment can be beneficial because colleges will see who you really are and not judge you by your test scores.

Another change for this year’s seniors is an optional 250-word COVID-19 essay on the Common Application. Students who choose to write this essay are prompted to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted their lives, providing another opportunity to let colleges understand more about you. 

Even though applying to college in a pandemic has a slew of challenges, we will prevail. After all, we are Pirates!