Changes to the Application Process

Counseling Center Bulletin Board
Posted on 11/12/2020
Counseling Center Bulletin BoardHow COVID-19 Impacts College Application Process
Maddie Keefer
Staff Writer
[email protected]

The college bulletin board within the High School Guidance Office lists various resources for seniors during their application processes.

The Class of 2021 is faced with the obstacle of applying to colleges amidst a global health pandemic. While some have not begun the application process yet, other students chose to apply Early Decision or Early Action and have already experienced the effects of the pandemic on college applications. For seniors who specifically applied Early Decision or Early Action, the process of touring schools, standardized testing, and collecting recommendations looked vastly different from years past.

“Since [the pandemic], I have only been able to do virtual tours through the websites of colleges and universities. In comparison to actual tours, I think that virtual tours are helpful in their own way and even without the pandemic, I think that I would still have done them,” Senior and Early Decision Applicant to Johns Hopkins Herbert Edmonds said.

“Virtual tours allow individuals to see what it is like inside dorms and buildings, a feature that is not present in physical tours, yet I believe that having in person tours are critical because usually, you can tell if you would want to attend the college just by being on the campus.”

As campuses close or alter schedules for the pandemic, visiting prospective schools is a major intervening obstacle between seniors and finding the school for them. To make the most of the circumstances, students like Edmonds take advantage of virtual tours or webinars in order to experience the school without physically stepping on campus. For those applying early, the use of virtual tours was even more crucial, as the pandemic was still in its early stages when these students needed to investigate and decide in order to meet the early November deadlines.

Despite obstacles, both students and schools made the most of the available resources to ensure that seniors did not miss out on their perfect schools due to travel and gathering restrictions.

Alongside campus tour restrictions, standardized testing presents a problem for seniors, as tests from the spring were cancelled. To compensate for lost tests, testing centers are currently cycling through numerous tests per month so seniors may have SAT or ACT scores if they chose to report them.

However, cramming of testing dates has led to an overflow of seniors who have yet to test, placing further pressure on individuals during the college application process.

In an effort to ease stress levels, many colleges have gone “test optional” for this application process, as they understand the possible inability to test or test well during these times. For seniors, both early and regular applicants, standardized tests continue to cause pressure as there remains an internal desire to test and put one’s best foot forward on an application, although this year that may be impossible for all.

The question then arises of if applying early to college is worth it while dealing with the other global stressors. Why apply early when a student can wait and potentially bolster his or her application later? What are the potential setbacks of applying early in a year full of uncertainty?

Overall, for seniors applying to college this decision is about where they feel most comfortable and how they feel about pursuing the necessary applications. The college application process has been altered for every college-bound senior, so for those who applied early there are both risks and rewards associated with completing their applications before any more alterations can occur.

“For students applying early, there is an unhealthy amount of stress to complete applications, take tests, and get teacher recommendations," Edmonds said. "With the current circumstances in this pandemic, there is also a lot of confusion in the application process due to a lack of guidance and education on the subject. On the subject of early applications, I strongly believe that individuals should refrain from feeling a need to submit earlier unless they are committing for early decision."

Seniors can feel secure with the knowledge that they made the best decision for themselves, whether this be regular or early decision, and that applications will work out how they ought to in the end.
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