How COVID-19 Will Impact College Admissions

Rhama Brightwell, Writer

No more SATs? The 2020 pandemic is changing the college admissions process for the Class of 2021 and could potentially have lasting effects for years to come. Many colleges, including the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Tufts University, have already announced they will be test-optional for the next 3 years, leading us to ponder how else the usually traditional process of college admissions will change. 

Guidance Counselor, Julianne Horner, explained that colleges will be focusing more on transcripts and personal essays for the future of college admissions. She believes that these will be important resources for colleges that do not require test scores since they can demonstrate if a student will be successful on their campus without seeing their performance on standardized tests. 

Transcripts will be held to higher importance since they show how the student chose to challenge themselves academically in high school. Also, personal essays will show colleges who the student is as a person; what their passions are, how they work with others, how they handle hard times, etc. 

The year 2020 has thrown many curveballs to high school seniors, from standardized tests being canceled to sports seasons being called off. Colleges have already made efforts to help students by not requiring any standardized testing, offering virtual college visits, and even extending deadlines. The University of Florida announced that they pushed their deadline back two weeks just recently on October 21st. 

Many colleges have even announced that they will be going test-optional permanently. Mrs. Horner also said that test-optional schools will emphasize the importance of extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and demonstrated interest. To gain insight into a student’s academic strengths, other than just through a transcript, Mrs. Horner also expects schools to require applicants to submit graded writing assignments from their high school classes, AP test scores, and even more supplemental essays. 

According to Colleen Walsh’s article Will coronavirus change college admissions?, published in The Harvard Gazette, many schools, including Harvard, will also review applicants by requiring a short interview. This short interview will also help colleges learn more about the student. 

 One example of how the college admissions process is already transforming is in the University of California system. This year, all 9 colleges announced that they will be test-optional for the admissions years of 2021 and 2022, and will even become test blind (not evaluating test scores even if submitted) for in-state students by 2023 and 2024. The collection of colleges also announced that they hope to create their own exam in the near future to measure the applicants’ academic abilities. 

Mrs. Horner believes that if other states followed this example and all created their own exams, it would be very difficult for students to apply to schools in multiple states. Due to this, she said that it would be best for schools to go test-optional across the board.

Navigating through this new process of college admissions is stressful and uncertain for everyone involved and Mrs. Horner said that the Guidance department is very proud of the class of 2021 getting through this unexpected year.