The Coronavirus Pandemic’s Impact Upon the College Application Process

Covid-19 has changed virtually every aspect of how students will prepare for college applications this fall.


Samantha Cavusoglu

With the nationwide move towards online learning caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of students are concerned about upcoming college applications. “I am worried whether the pandemic will be taken into consideration when going through the college application process,” said Lucia Cho ’21.

As students nationwide continue their work at home due to coronavirus, questions are beginning to arise regarding what these abrupt changes mean for their academic career. Specifically, many high school students are wondering what will happen to their college application process in the wake of the pandemic. 

The shift in routine is can be distressing for many teenagers. The time away from school and uncertainties about how the crisis will affect adolescents in the future can lead to stress and anxiety that may have lasting effects. 

For seniors, being in quarantine poses a challenge as they make their college decisions due to schools cancelling all on-campus  accepted student days. “I didn’t get a chance to tour some of the colleges that I was accepted into, so it’s definitely made the decision a bit difficult,” Subah Patwari ’20 said.  

For other students, especially juniors, being out of school also poses a problem as they prepare for college applications. “I have a lot of concern about what online school means for my college application process next year. Junior year is one of the most important years to be able to show improvement for my GPA, but with the remote learning grading policy put in place by the NYC DOE, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to boost my grades up with tests and projects, only through participation and homework,” Lucia Cho ’21 said. 

Even though the college process may not be as straightforward as it was for students before, the country is unified in trying to help students to navigate the changes as easily as possible. Already, in order to help ease the burden on students, New York State has announced that they will be cancelling June 202o Regents exams. Students will not have to make up the exams at a later date, and the state will make arrangements to ensure that the change will not have an effect on graduating seniors.  “I do think it’s good that the Regents are cancelled, because they are an unnecessary source of stress for all New York City students who are already faced with an incredibly stressful situation,” Jose Betances ’21 said.

The College Board has made changes as well, changing all AP exams to a shortened, 45 minute online format. There have also been plans for the SAT and the ACT to move online; the College Board is currently in the process of developing an online SAT for September 2020, due to the many cancelled test dates that have occurred over the past few months. This has raised red flags for many who feel as though the test will cause more anxiety for students due to the extenuating circumstances. 

“Even though some colleges are no longer looking at them, [the SAT/ACT] are recommended and/or required by many more colleges. Juniors this year will have to take them during school next year with less time to improve,” Hannah Goo ’21 said. 

Because of such concerns, many colleges have opted to completely disregard standardized testing for the upcoming year during the admissions process. Several schools have opted to go test optional in response to the pandemic including Tulane University, Tufts University, Northeastern University, Boston University, Vassar College, and many other highly selective universities. While some colleges have only made the change temporarily, a growing list of more than 1,000 schools have made a permanent switch. 

However, some colleges are confident that students can still meet their expectations. Many schools, including some of the Ivy League universities, will maintain their existing stance on admissions, still requiring standardized tests as a part of the criteria. In a statement released by Yale University, admissions officers explained that they “expect there will be sufficient opportunities for all applicants to complete [standardized testing] before the next admissions deadlines.”

As the pandemic continues, more and more problems are continuing to arise. In New York and the rest of the United States, no one is certain what is in store for the upcoming summer. For some students, this uncertainty is threatening their summer plans that were an important part of their college applications. “Some students who are in the Science Research program now cannot complete their lab work. I was planning to work or to get an internship this summer, but now I cannot do so,” Goo said. 

While no one knows for sure how colleges will shift their admissions process to adapt to the complications caused by COVID-19, experts suggest that the best thing that students can do at the moment is to keep up with their school work and extracurriculars to the best of their abilities, given the circumstances.

Even though the college process may not be as straightforward as it was for students before, the country is unified in trying to help students to navigate the changes as easily as possible.