For many of us, the Coronavirus pandemic is the first time we’ve ever had to face a situation that is truly beyond our control. If you’re a junior who’s planning to apply to college in the fall, it is no doubt heightening the sense of stress and anxiety around college admissions that you were already experiencing. The timing could absolutely not be worse for you. While there is nothing beyond practical safety measures that we can do to manage the impact of COVID-19 on our lives, having information about what you can (and can’t) do to keep your college process on track might give you some peace of mind.
The Most Important Thing to Know
It’s scary to accept, but you are powerless to control the ways our current situation will affect college admissions in the fall. The cold, hard truth is that we simply don’t know what impact it will have on things like application deadlines, the admit rates of colleges, or how things like spring semester grades and SAT/ACT scores will be used in evaluating applications. In many cases, the colleges themselves are still answering these questions. Don’t create extra stress for yourself by trying to find answers where there are as yet none to be had.
The good news is that colleges understand what you’re going through. They will not hold you accountable for things that you can do nothing about. What does this mean for you?
Spring Semester Grades
Different school districts are taking different approaches to instruction and grading for spring semester. Some schools are doing online instruction while others are not. Some are continuing to give letter grades, while others are grading pass/fail. Colleges understand this. They are working to figure out how to factor this into the admissions process.
Whatever your school is doing, continue to work hard and earn the best possible grades. This is one thing that you can control, so make the most of it!
Several colleges have dropped or modified their testing requirements for the class of 2021, including the University of California system and some top tier universities like MIT (which has dropped its subject test requirement). It seems likely that more will follow suit.
Even before the pandemic, many colleges were “test-optional,” which means scores would be considered if submitted but weren’t required. You can find a list of these schools here: https://fairtest.org/university/optional
The College Board and the ACT have plans so students can make up tests that were cancelled. You can find updates here:
This is an unprecedented time, and there are many things we can’t answer right now. But it will pass, and you will go to college in 2021. The most important thing you can do right now is take care of your physical and mental health, so that when we emerge from this challenging time, you’re ready to resume your journey to college.