How Has the Pandemic Affected the College Application Process?

How Has the Pandemic Affected the College Application Process?

By Lauren Reiser, Senior Editor

The COVID-19 Pandemic has completely altered the world we live in. For students, quarantine has been extremely restricting in regards to school and social life. For seniors, the college process has undergone some drastic changes for this year.

Many schools have gone test-optional, meaning applicants get to decide whether or not they would like their SAT/ACT scores to be considered. For the seniors who did not have the chance to take one of these standardized tests, this new policy has likely eased their college application process. However, students who did have the chance to take a test have to decide whether or not to send their scores, and this choice is not always black and white. Some students were able to take the test, but were not able to reach their full potential since many of their later test dates were cancelled. With college admissions more competitive than ever, this choice can be imperative part of a student’s admissions decision.

The pandemic has also affected students’ opportunities to visit college campuses. Many students have found it difficult to narrow down their choices without the ability to physically visit these schools. For students choosing to apply Early Decision or Restrictive Early Action, the lack of college visits can make their choice more difficult.

Senior Gabrielle Goldman has found virtual college visits to be limiting. “Not being able to visit colleges in person has made the application process much more difficult. It is hard to envision yourself on a campus that you have not been to yet.”

Senior Anshul Sinha has also struggled with the changes to the college application process. “It’s difficult [to understand] how I’ll fit into the college based off virtual information sessions. You can’t really feel the atmosphere of the campus.”

In addition, the unavailability of college visits makes it difficult to show Demonstrated Interest — showing a true interest in attending by visiting or contacting admissions for different schools. This could potentially impact a student’s admissions decision because it is often considered in a student’s application.

SAT scores and college visits are not the only changes to the college application process this year. A COVID-19 specific question has been added to the Common App, which gives students a set space to discuss how the pandemic has affected their academics and personal lives. Colleges have increased their online resources, such as recorded or live information sessions and virtual campus tours, to help students and parents with their research. Some changes, however, are more local.

Senior Lydia Yang has found it restricting that students can’t physically meet with their guidance counselors. “It’s a bit difficult that we can’t meet in person with our guidance counselors and teachers to help with the process, but I’m grateful for the virtual opportunities we have regardless. Although there’s no way for me to visit some colleges that I’m interested in, virtual tours and info sessions have helped a lot.”