This past spring, we all scrambled to make abrupt changes in high school academics, testing procedures, college admission requirements, and more. College admissions standards quickly evolved in response to the pandemic situation. But now that we’re getting into the swing of things, and settling into a new way of learning, what will this mean for college admissions in the future? Nothing is certain at this point, but we expect to see changes in at least the following four areas.
More schools will be “test optional”. With many testing centers closed, or families hesitant to attend testing sessions in light of the current situation, you might be wondering how colleges will consider ACT and SAT scores in the future. The National Association for College Admission Counseling released a list of about 400 universities that affirm they will not penalize students for failing to submit standardized test scores for Fall 2021. In other words, taking the ACT or SAT might help you (in particular if you receive a high score), but the absence of a test score submission won’t automatically bar you from admission to those schools. Will that trend continue beyond Fall 2021? We don’t know yet.
If you’re applying for certain scholarships, however, those test scores might still matter.
Student statements matter. When schools closed abruptly in Spring 2020, the switch to online learning impacted students in a variety of ways. Some schools switched to pass/fail grading systems, a few automatically issued As for the last grading period of the year, and others stuck with their old grading standards. Individual teachers might have varied in their leniency. Because grades became confusing for college admissions panels, they compensated by giving weight to student statements regarding personal impacts of the pandemic. That allowance could continue in future years.
Extracurriculars are interrupted. In the past, extracurricular activities reflected a well-rounded, involved student. College admissions panels understand that most extracurriculars have been interrupted for now, and students won’t be penalized on a lack of those activities at this time.
Everyone is writing essays on the pandemic. The pandemic seems like a relatable choice for entrance essays, but keep in mind that everyone else thinks so, too. College admissions officials could become bored with this topic unless you have a very unusual perspective or experience this year. Keeping that in mind, choosing a different topic to demonstrate your character and uniqueness might be a good idea.
We will continue to keep you informed of all issues that impact college admissions in the future. If have any questions on specific topics, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.