By now, everyone knows about the pandemic sweeping the world, but unless you are watching the news constantly or are in the position of applying to college yourself, you may not know how the coronavirus has impacted college applications. Here are some of the changes that you or your soon-to-be-college-bound child may experience with the application process in the midst of COVID-19.
The SAT and ACT are the main tests most universities use for their applications; therefore, doing well is vital in getting into the college of your dreams. While studying for the SAT and ACT can be done virtually, the test cannot. The SAT taking place on June 6 has been cancelled due to the virus, but they are adding an extra testing date in September to make up. The ACT taking place on June 13 may still go on, but continue to look out for updates about whether it is safe to test in your registered testing center if you are registered for this date. You should receive a green or red light on the June 13 test by May 26. Check to see if you are eligible to get your testing date change fee waived in case you need to change the date due to coronavirus. Whenever you do take the SAT or ACT, since everything isn’t reliable due to the current situation, plan ahead. Make sure to map out how many attempts at the tests you think you will need before you have to send your final score to your chosen colleges.
So far, the only colleges that have completely dropped SAT/ACT testing requirements for the graduating class of 2021 are Cornell, the entire University of California system, and the University of Washington. Some universities went a step further to completely rid the application process of standardized testing scores forever, such as the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Scripps College. And other colleges are giving students the option to submit scores if they choose – Tulane University, Case Western Reserve University, Texas Christian University, Trinity University, Vassar and Pomona Colleges, Davidson College, Haverford College, Rhodes College, Tufts, Northeastern University, Boston University, Williams College, Amherst College, and Harvard University.
While there are universities granting students optional testing submissions, there are many universities that still require SAT or ACT scores. So, no matter where you plan to attend, I recommend you take at least one test. Students who are planning to apply for college this coming fall semester must plan it all out more in-depth than previous classes. You need to figure out exactly which colleges you are applying to and regularly check their website as well as the testing site’s website for coronavirus-related updates. The application process can be tedious and already took unexpected turns pre-pandemic, so now is the time to sit down and decide what you really want post-graduation.
Don’t expect a lot of financial aid after you apply, either. Many universities, if not all, are facing funding shortages and struggling to stay afloat financially. The New York Times reported on a memo from the American Council of Education that stated, “Universities face unprecedented enrollment uncertainty, risks to multiple revenue streams, and potential material erosion in their balance sheets.” This means that, in your plan for applying to college, you should consider more backup schools that are affordable to you and your family, more than previous graduating classes.
The virus has raised concerns left and right all over the world even in the most unexpected places, but now is the time to be optimistic and use these extenuating circumstances to your advantage. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise if your school no longer requires the SAT (for which you might not have been studying as hard as you should have). Or maybe now with SAT cancellations you get more time to study or plan for the colleges you really want to go to. However, because of how this pandemic has impacted you, specifically with your application process, you now have strength that other classes before you did not, which can also make for an awesome college application essay topic.