College Admissions and COVID-19: A New Paradigm
By Dr. Gina La Monica
Since March 2020, much has changed in education since the COVID-19 pandemic caused havoc to our country. Unexpectedly in spring 2020, schools closed replaced by untested technology-based learning, school hours were shortened, kids experienced Zoom overload, College Board SAT/ACT testing was canceled, AP Exams were administered on the web, and college enrollment numbers plummeted. These changes have drastically changed the college admissions landscape.
What now? Many of my clients are wondering how college admissions staff will now assess their college applications considering these many challenges and limitations that will affect an entire high school cohort. I asked that very question to some of my colleagues in higher education. At Stanford, the admissions staff member stated, “We certainly understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty and frustration for this year, but we will be reviewing this year with that understanding as we continue to review applicants over the next several years.” My other colleague at UC Davis stated, “We encourage students to use the PIQ’s [Personal Insight Questions] to address their personal COVID situation.”
Among the many changes in the college admissions process is a new phenomenon that has gained momentum even among the most elite universities – test-optional admissions. Schools are now not requiring students to submit SAT or ACT scores. Colleges, such as the University of California, Amherst College, California Institute of Technology, College of William and Mary, Dartmouth, and Harvard among others are no longer asking students to submit their scores. Is it then advantageous to take either test? Yes! Study for either one (SAT or ACT), but do not place any school recipients on your exam application until you receive your score. If you do well, then send the scores to the colleges of interest. Submitting good exam scores will set you apart from the other applicants who did not bother to take these tests.
Due to these adverse consequences of the epidemic, seniors applying to college will need to be creative and “think outside of the box” on how to stand out among their peers with the limited opportunities to engage in school and community activities that would have to strengthen their applications.
Additionally, college admissions staff across the nation are at a quandary of how many freshmen to admit since their long-lasting algorithms for enrollment management are not pandemic proof.
This will be an interesting year for all involved in college admissions. And for the people who work at the colleges, like me, we are hoping the students who left during this crisis come back to campus.
For a further discussion on college admissions, come join me on Sunday, February 28 at 7:00 pm for a free college admission Zoom workshop. Please contact me below via email or call if you are interested in attending.
Dr. Gina La Monica has a Doctorate in Education and has worked as a high school counselor, college administrator, and professor at many universities and colleges including the University of California, Los Angeles, California Lutheran University, California State University, Northridge, San Diego State University, etc. She was a tenured professor and an expert in career technical education and adult learning. She currently teaches at a local college and helps students of all ages from kindergarten to the university level with career exploration, college admissions, learning assessment, tutoring, and education plans.