Coronavirus Adds to Junior Year Stress

by CJ Shepherdson '20

In March, before school closed, The Voice ran an article about what junior year is like. The main topic for that article was the college process, junior year grades, and standardized testing. So how have these stress levels changed with coronavirus?

Just like everything else, coronavirus has really affected the college process for the class of 2021. We spoke with Mr. Doyle about what some of the colleges are doing to try and still give prospective students a chance to see the campus and apply to their school. Mr. Doyle said, “Colleges and universities have gone full-on virtual, from virtual guided tours of campus, to webinars with the dean of admission or the president of the college, to individual Zoom meetings for prospective students with a member of the admission office.”

 This is the same thing that colleges are doing for many athletes and recruits around the country as well. For example, Junior Malcolm Johnson was supposed to visit multiple schools over spring break like many other athletes around the country. The schools that he was supposed to visit are now holding virtual visits with him with coaches walking around the campus. Malcolm said, “I don’t really stress because I’m in a blessed position and have a lot more opportunities than most, but I would say it definitely has made it more difficult because of the cancellation of visits and things like that.” He says that the virtual visits help him get an idea of the campus and school, but he knows he needs to see them in person first to really get a better feel for them.

We surveyed the juniors asking whether or not they were more stressed and about 86% agreed that they were more stressed now with coronavirus. Junior Kyle Burbage said “especially for those who need this time of year to get recruited, the coronavirus could not have come at a worse time.” Burbage also goes into detail about how a lot of college students may take gap years and there may be limited spots for them. 

One survey respondent had the same concern as Kyle, and another student responded to my survey talking about how they are unsure of financial stability and need to find a college that will give scholarship money. With the economy being so bad for the last couple months and about 20% of Americans unemployed, this will become a real issue for colleges and universities. 

A big piece of a March article from The Voice was about the stress of final junior year grades. We talked to Mr. Doyle about whether or not colleges will still look that hard into junior year grades, and he said “we feel that they will” and that “colleges are going to have to dig a bit deeper and do their homework, and we will continue within our letters of recommendation to put an applicant's upper school life into context.” This is interesting because it means that colleges are definitely going to have to look into the student, more than just their grades. 

 

The last thing we talked about with Mr. Doyle was standardized testing. Many colleges are now going test-optional for the upcoming year, and some are going test-optional for the upcoming three years as this holdup will affect multiple classes. Some students do not take the SAT and ACT until the end of their junior year and now they have been canceled up until October. One student said “a lot of practice has gone down the drain,” which shows that some students really rely on their standardized test scores, so this is an interesting change. Hopefully, every student who wants to take it can take it eventually!

Obviously, like everything else, Coronavirus has caused a lot of stress for the class of 2021 and their college process. No matter if people are upset about grades not counting as much or if people are happy about it, there is no doubt about it that this has definitely made the college process a lot more difficult.