How the College Process has Changed During 2020

By: Nico Corica'21

The coronavirus has changed normal life and tasks in a way none of us imagined. The college process has had a large change due to coronavirus. The phrase “ The College process” is very well known and anyone in their teens has most likely heard it before. But only a small group have a clear understanding of the process itself. In high school that group is the senior class. Every Senior applying to college has witnessed these changes and has had to adapt to them. The changes to the college process have also affected parents and universities too. Changes have been made to the way seniors finalize their decisions on where to apply and colleges decide who to accept and deny.

Dr. Carter, a college counselor at SSSAS talks about his opinions on the new college process. Regarding college admission, Dr. Carter says: “With only the start of early admission (Early Decision and some Early Action) results beginning to come in, it is too early to tell if it is easier or harder to be admitted to college this year than in past years.”Although many have argued that in general it is harder to be admitted or it is more difficult, or it depends on the college, the most accurate answer you will receive will be, we just don’t know yet. Although this is a very difficult year for many students, being able to stand out is very important, Dr. Carter expresses that: “a student can stand out through the impact that they have had on their community.  Community can be defined as the SSSAS school community, a person's neighborhood, church congregation, or the broader community in the DMV or even further”. Since standardized testing like the SAT or the ACT isn’t required, these are some great ways to stand out.

 

Declan McCue ‘21 talked about how the college process has affected him. He explains that he has submitted scores to all of his school and decided to not apply test-optional. He said that applying to some schools has gotten easier due to most being test-optional, that it may make it easier to be admitted, but for other schools applying test-optional may make it more difficult to be admitted since a large portion of your application is not included. When asked how a student should stand out to colleges, he says that taking initiative with social issues, volunteering, and commitments are a great way to stand out. Those examples show you give back to the community and aid the community by taking initiative with social issues. 

 

When asked about different parts of the process for example making a college list and touring schools during the Pandemic, Declan said, “It was not difficult for my first choice since I have had my heart set on it for a while, but for others it was difficult.” He went on to explain that he picked other schools based on their majors, programs and if he could see himself there. Although the most ideal way to pick schools would be to take part in a guided tour, that aspect has gotten very difficult due to the Pandemic. When asked about touring schools, Declan said that he has done self-guided tours, where he walks around campus and gets a feel for the atmosphere on campus.

 

Amanda Gaffney ‘21 was also asked about her opinions on the college process during the Pandemic. When asked about picking schools, she said that it wasn't as difficult finding where to apply, since not many offer her major and there aren't as many to choose from. The next step would be to visit the campus and be a part of a guided tour but, like Declan, Amanda did self-guided tours. Amanda also decided to submit her scores to all of her colleges. When asked if it is easier or harder to be admitted she explained that it's harder since some apply test-optional and others submit their scores, colleges have to shift their focus to other parts of your application, for example, your essay and supplements. She believes that there is less focus on grades when admissions offices are looking at applications. She talked about how to stand out in your application. Amanda said you should be well rounded, your application shouldn’t be focused on one area or aspect of your life, to stand out you should focus on many different aspects and excel at them.

 

It is obvious that the college process has changed tremendously, and has affected everyone applying in one way or another. Both Declan and Amanda share some aspects of this change process, and many thousands of other kids probably do too. One downside explained by Declan was the problem of having to learn about the college process over zoom, he felt lost and confused most of the time, and he felt he only had half of the information. I can relate to that comment because even though I have turned in multiple applications, and I am making choices on where I would like to attend, I still feel that I truly understand only half of the process.