How Coronavirus Is Effecting The College Process For Current Juniors (the nitty-gritty details)

by Claire Shea
How Coronavirus Is Effecting The College Process For Current Juniors

How Is Coronavirus Effecting The College Process For Current Juniors And Beyond? Continue reading.

In the months since the COVID-19 outbreak began, high school students from around the world have had to rethink their college search, application, and enrollment process. Much like how many middle and high schools across the US are switching to an online learning platform, such as virtual classes in Zoom, many colleges and universities are now offering digital resources. Some events, such as Northeastern University’s Honors Welcome Day, have moved from on-campus to online. High school seniors now rely mainly on virtual campus tours, webinars, and online research to learn more about colleges before committing to one. High school juniors also have to rethink their college search process, now that they will be unable to visit as many schools. Of course, the impact is felt the hardest by a number of low-income families with limited access to the internet. Without resources like school counselors or public libraries, these students may be forced to make decisions based on limited information.

Additionally, a record-breaking 1,050 schools have dropped the standardized testing requirement for the 2020-2021 school year. While this is partly due to recent cancellations and postponements of the SAT and ACT, this also reflects how many colleges and universities are shifting away from grades and test scores in favor of a more holistic approach to the admissions process. Indeed, SAT and ACT scores have been found to correlate strongly with factors such as family income and race, opening the door to discrimination against underprivileged students or students belonging to historically marginalized groups. In fact, many colleges and universities have reported an increase in student diversity after dropping this requirement; the University of Chicago, for instance, reported a 20% increase in first-generation, low income, and/or rural students, with no significant difference in academic performance on campus.

As for AP courses, CollegeBoard has recently announced that they will administer 45-minute, free-response only, online exams, and that most colleges will likely accept credit for APs despite the loss of several months’ worth of classes. On the other hand, the May 2020 IB exams have been canceled, with diplomas and certificates being awarded based on currently-completed coursework. 

However, the current pandemic will likely impact more than just college admissions. As of March 26, over 1,102 colleges and universities in the United States have closed down. This unprecedented situation is estimated to affect over 14 million students, many of whom scrambled to board flights and return home before airports closed down. As a result, many high school students are reconsidering their college choice, since the widespread panic has caused many to favor schools that are closer to home. Colleges in the US may also have fewer international students in the near future, as nationwide travel bans have resulted in many students being trapped, away from their home country. Meanwhile, public universities will likely see a decrease in the number of out-of-state students. As for current admissions of the class of 2024, many colleges are expected to have longer waitlists, due to the uncertainty of enrollment.

The stock market crash and wave of unemployment also factor into college enrollment decisions, as some students face a changing economic situation at home and may no longer be able to attend based on tuition and the amount of financial aid they receive. To counter this, colleges could be offering more financial aid to students whose families have faced job losses as a result of the pandemic. 

While it is unclear how much longer colleges will remain closed, the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly become a major disruption in the lives of millions of students. And between the expansion of online resources, shift away from standardized testing, and alterations in financial aid, the ongoing crisis will almost certainly have a lasting impact on the college admissions process.