College Application Process Turned Askew

COVID-19 has definitely upended the college admission cycle for current seniors – the Class of 2020 will graduate from high school with no proms, no grad nights, many of them no actual graduation ceremony – and for many seniors, they’ll need to make their college choice without having visited.  We have some thoughts and resources for seniors in this post.

But the most uncertainty lies with current juniors, who will apply to college this fall.  Their questions revolve around how colleges will consider this spring semester, when some high schools aren’t giving grades, their testing opportunities have been curtailed, and most, if not all, of their extra-curricular activities are cancelled.  While this is still a fluid situation, with colleges making different announcements every day, there’s more information about all of those things in this post as well.

College admission changes for the Class of 2021

A number of colleges have announced they will be test-optional at least for the Class of 2021, and for some colleges, into the future.

One of the bigger changes is that some colleges will go test-optional for the Class of 2021.  SOME.  Not all.  “I’m hoping that this is enough of a tipping point for colleges to go test-optional,” said Jeff Schiffman, Tulane University’s Director of Admissions, on a webinar in early April.  Tulane announced it will not require test scores for the Class of 2021 about a week later.  The list in the image on the right is a partial list of colleges that have made this decision so far – but keep in mind that the list is changing rapidly.  When colleges DO announce a test-optional policy, what does that mean about how they will make their decisions?  Here’s what test-optional really means.

The college application timeline could shift a little later as well.  Colleges with Early Decision or Early Action deadlines could move those dates later.  While we haven’t seen any official announcements, we’ve heard from admission officers that this is definitely a possibility. Policies will vary by college.

Your extra-curriculars have been cancelled!  Should you be doing anything right now?  Here are some thoughts about what you could be doing.

UC San Diego Geisel Library
The iconic Geisel Library at UCSD; Magellan counselors visited UCSD just as the coronavirus shut-down was starting.

It’s important to keep in mind that while Covid-19 will have an impact on college admissions, many facets of the college search and application process will be exactly the same.  Your goal is to build a balanced list of colleges that are a good fit for you academically, socially and emotionally – and for your parents financially.  Keep in mind that some private colleges are more generous with scholarships than many publics, so while the “sticker price” on a private college may be intimidating, you probably won’t be paying that price.  On this topic, now is a GREAT time for parents to learn how the college financial aid process actually works.  For more on that, take a look at the top video on this page.

If you feel like you want a little extra guidance through the process, that’s what we’re here for!  Please let us know if we can help.


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