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As a new school year begins, it is once again time to apply for college. College applications have worried and stressed high school seniors since their introduction, and it’s not any different this year.
With COVID-19, many students across the country worry about how this will affect their chances of admission. I spoke to Mr. Simon, a college counselor, in order to understand more about the changes to the already strenuous process.
Luckily, very little has changed this year. Most deadlines are the same and colleges still want a full application. Only a handful of things will change, such as college visits and standardized testing. With social distancing orders in place, it is nearly impossible to hold college visits, which is usually what helps students choose a school.
Prior to working at Loyola, Mr. Simon worked in college admissions at two different universities. He believes that “high school visits, college fairs, and on campus events were among the most important ways to reach and connect with students. This is where we were able to meet interested students and answer specific questions, but was also a major way to promote our university to a wide range of students who were less familiar with our university.”
Without these visits, it’s hard to create these connections. It doesn’t seem likely that colleges will be allowing in-person visits anytime soon, but Mr. Simon highly suggests attending the Zoom webinars and look forward to the possibility of visiting in the springtime.
Another factor that has changed is the way colleges view standardized testing. Before, every student needed to take either the ACT or the SAT in order to apply to college. Now, more and more schools are becoming test optional or test blind, meaning that either the scores won’t be as significant as before, or they won’t even be looked at at all.
Mr. Simon wholeheartedly approves of this, since he believes that these tests are not a good indicator of intelligence. More and more teachers agree that students who can afford test prep score higher than those who can’t. In these programs, students practice the same types of questions. Rather than studying topics, they study the questions.
A student’s GPA is a better indicator of intelligence. This idea is becoming more widespread throughout different colleges in the country. In fact, the entire University of California system, which includes highly competitive schools such as UCLA and UC Berkeley, has stated that these test scores will not be considered beginning this fall. This decision benefits all students.
So, for now, the worrying can stop. Next to nothing has changed for the college application process.