The Coronavirus and Its Impact on the College Admissions Process
The coronavirus/COVID-19 has changed college admissions for the foreseeable future.
Hopefully, college campuses will “return to normal” by August or September, but that is uncertain at this time. Student should check email (including junk mail folder) frequently for updates from the colleges. Students should consider joining college Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram feeds to stay current on news. It is important to check snail mail for potential updates, college websites, and “accepted student portals” for coronavirus/COVID-19 updates. The overall message is: Stay informed, be patient and stay calm. Every student, high school, and college is in the same boat. The coronavirus pandemic is beyond everyone’s control. As a service to students and families, NACAC is providing an online tool as a central resource for information about changes in college admission events, deposit dates, and more as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. See this link for more information: https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/newsroom/college-admission-status-coronavirus/
Regarding high school online classes and grades, students should remember to stay in close touch with teachers and school administration. Students should make every effort to learn the school material, even if the standards have become flexible or assistance has been less available. While grading will likely be flexible, many high schools have not announced if they will go to “pass/fail” grades. Regardless, students should learn the material to be better prepared for college coursework. Some suggestions include, reading online tutorials, forming virtual study groups, and engaging in an online tutor.
Regarding SAT and ACT tests, both have postponed test dates until June. They will determine if June tests can be administered at a later date and announcements will be made. Check their websites for the latest updates. (www.collegeboard.org and www.actstudent.org).
Regarding AP tests, students should remain in touch with high schools and the testing company for AP exams (The College Board – see https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/news-changes/coronavirus-update). Colleges will certainly be flexible regarding students who do not complete the AP Exams. AP tests are generally used for college placement and/or for college credit. The exam results are rarely used for admissions decisions.
Regarding high school final transcripts, the college at which the student accepts an offer will usually want a “final transcript” in early July. Students should keep in touch with their high school and intended college to guarantee the final transcript is transmitted and received. Colleges will, in general, accept whatever grading policy the high schools have implemented for the remainder of the year.
For juniors who are building their college lists, virtual tours through YouVisit or Campus Reel or YouTube will provide both college-produced videos and those uploaded by current and prospective students. They should dive deeply into the college websites and review the mission statements, academics and student life sections. Another excellent way to get the “feel” of a school is to read the colleges’ newspapers to get an idea of issues that concern different students. If students have questions about the colleges, they should contact designated admission officers and ask them. It is possible that many requirements for the class of 2021 may change. Students should be sure to be on the college’s prospective student list so they will keep them informed about changes.
At this time, we do not know how the pandemic will play out in the United States. If restrictions (and danger) subside relatively quickly, campus visits may be resumed in the summer or fall. If prospective students have carefully researched the colleges on their lists, they will know which ones will be most important to visit.
If the student’s family financial situation has changed because of lost business, a lost job, and a significant drop in assets (401K, 529, stock portfolio), students and families should contact prospective colleges regarding financial aid. Policies vary widely, but if the family can provide evidence or an explanation, some may offer better aid than their initial packages.