Juniors Face Changes in the College Planning Process Due to COVID-19 Shutdowns

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Photo Credit: Saylor

A symbol to represent how students go through and experience the next step in their life.

Noelle Nelson, Entertainment Editor

Spring is the time of year when many juniors would normally start looking at what colleges they are going to apply to, visit them, and start to make finalized choices before they start filling out applications in a couple of months. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the typical college selection process has become much more uncertain. Luckily, many colleges are trying to help ease the pain of future students by suggesting some ways you can continue your search and go to college, despite the ongoing pandemic.

Since most universities are closed for the rest of the semester, hundreds of schools are offering virtual visits online, through videos or software such as YouVisit, as a way for curious students to take a look at their campuses.  Some schools are even offering Zoom, Skype, or other platforms as a way to see the campus and speak to faculty firsthand. While virtual visits keep students safe, many juniors are concerned about how it will impact their college choices.

“I think the corona outbreak is going to make the university [search] process more stressful than it already was,” junior Holly Mulhall said.

Another additional problem the novel coronavirus poses is the canceling of spring SAT and ACT tests. For many students, the spring testing dates were an opportunity to bring up their first test scores. Without the tests, students face the challenge of fulfilling the college admission requirement with a score they feel does not represent their capabilities. 

To help resolve the issue, many colleges and universities have gone test-optional, meaning you can choose whether or not to report the score. Some schools that have already made the change include Oregon State University, Boston University, University of California, and Davidson College. There are more colleges expected to follow in their footsteps as they figure out an adapted admissions process.

“I think that the college process will change in that the focus on standardized testing will lessen and other factors will become more important,” junior Rachel Goldie said. “I think that for those of us applying to college [in the fall], the concerning part is that we are being negatively affected by modified  testing, the cancellation of research opportunities and possibly summer camps, and by not being able to prepare…academically.”

Some schools that have not yet changed their admission process are offering the chance for students to reach out to admissions counselors if they are having issues successfully meeting admission requirements. 

“The process itself has not changed,” admissions counselor at the University of Hartford Nathan Burrage said. “We review each file on a case by case basis, so if there is certain information that you do not think reflects who you are as a student, then we can certainly work with you.” 

Also, families affected economically by the coronavirus may look to colleges to provide more scholarships than they typically would have. The pandemic has led to a higher unemployment rate, since many people are not permitted to work.  Families will have a harder time paying for their student’s education and the need for financial help may impact the college selection process. 

While applying to college may not be the same as in previous years, colleges and universities around the world are working to try to adapt and figure out a way to resolve the issues brought on by the pandemic. Not to mention, since the extent and effects of the virus are not yet known, the range of changes to the application and admissions process may not be known to students for several months.