Applying to College During a Global Pandemic

Applying to College During a Global Pandemic

by Emma Stanco

The college application process is stressful enough for any high school senior – sprinkle in remote learning and a global pandemic, and you’ve got a potential recipe for disaster. 

The 2021 class is the first to feel the strains of Covid-19 during the college application process. Thousands of students across the country are experiencing ACT or SAT cancellations and aren’t able to visit their prospective schools. I personally have had three ACT cancellations- all of which came with a dreaded email. Even though many schools are test optional now, they would still prefer to see a good test score. This puts a heavy strain on thousands of students who are trying to improve their test score or even take their first test. Students often have to aim for perfection on their first test because they don’t know if they will be able to take another. Colleges are trying to accommodate prospective students by extending application deadlines- something that students desperately need, but is this enough? Many students are also applying to more schools now because they are unable to go on college tours. It’s difficult to get a full picture of each school without visiting them. Unlike my older sister who applied to two schools, I’ll be applying to roughly fifteen, without going on a single tour (that is, one that’s not taken sitting behind a computer screen). It’s stressful applying to schools that you haven’t visited in person. 

Students were robbed of other helpful opportunities to bolster their college applications as well, like sports and after school clubs. These are pivotal assets which many colleges look for in student applications. In Oceanside, after school clubs are not permitted unless they are online. Clubs are being limited in their activities, which could negatively impact students who need extracurriculars.

Many seniors who were hoping to rely on their athletics to get offers and potential scholarships are navigating uncharted waters. It is especially difficult when some schools in the country are continuing with their athletic seasons and others are postponing them or cancelling them entirely. Mr. Lusi, Oceanside’s College Athletics Advisor, has been helping students deal with these obstacles. He describes, “College coaches haven’t had a chance to see students play in the spring or summer. The NCAA has prohibited coaches from talking with players or being at their club or school team games or practices.” If a student is still trying to pursue an athletic career in college, Mr Luisi explains that “Students can submit tape but division one schools are making decisions based on seeing them play live and now they can’t. Many kids are being robbed of that opportunity.” 

There is, though one possible positive development for American students: less foreign students are applying to U.S. universities. This means less competition for applicants. However, foreign students aren’t the only ones who may decide to stay home. Many U.S. students are also wondering if dorming away from home is even worthwhile this year. College students are being sent home left and right, or being made to quarantine for weeks in their small dorms. This uncertainty is not very alluring. To pay thousands of dollars for room and board to attend online classes and miss out on the full ‘college experience’ might not be worth it this year. Some schools are also not letting kids pick roommates this upcoming fall, which could be a deal breaker for some. Many students are opting to do a year at home and are planning on transferring later on while some students are deciding to go away to college and just hope for the best. Whatever the case is, students need to research and plan every minute detail in order to stay ahead of the curve during these uncertain times. 

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