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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Seniors face new challenges and unknowns with college admissions

MON. | 11-16-20 | NEWS

SAT. | 10-10-20 | NEWS

     As college application season dawns on high school seniors, students and teachers are beginning to be made aware of the various application changes which have taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many universities have adjusted their application process to accommodate the students who didn't get the chance to retake their ACT and SAT tests by implementing a test-optional policy and shifting their applications to adapt to the seniors’ changing needs in a pandemic.

     “The biggest [change] is that test scores have been waived,” school counselor Martha Dudley said. “College application week, which is normally only a week, where certain schools in North Carolina waive their application fee, also actually expanded to two weeks this year.”

     Many seniors were unable to take the ACT or SAT this past year, and because of this decided to partake in the test-optional standard and forego score submissions.

     “I wasn’t able to take the SAT because every time I tried to take it, they would shut it down or change the location due to COVID,” senior Vinecia McCray said. “I didn’t choose to [submit my scores to colleges], because I did not get to take the SAT so I just made the decision to not submit my ACT score as well.”

     However, even before the pandemic, both students and staff were critical of the standardized testing system, with the pandemic inciting a possibly permanent shift away from standardized testing.

“Some people just don’t test well; their grades may be fine in class but when it comes to standardized testing, they just don’t do well,” Dudley said. “It could keep some kids from going to certain schools.”

     However, this test optional policy has also served to open up new opportunities for some seniors. For example, many seniors may feel more inclined to apply to a more prestigious or competitive school, simply because it now has an option to waive score submissions. 

     “I know some out of state colleges like Howard require you to submit your scores, so that’s why I applied to UNC school systems that aren’t requiring SAT/ACT scores,” McCray said.

     Along with the implementation of a test-optional standard, high school seniors have been limited in their ability to tour campuses, with many universities cancelling scheduledon-site visits for the summer and spring due to the virus. Some seniors, like McCray, chose to engage in the virtual tours now provided 


by the universities. However, she argues that the virtual aspect is very different compared to the benefits an in-person tour provides.

     “You can’t actually experience how it’s going to be when you go or see how the campus is,” McCray said. “It’s just through the computer.”

     Tours are a way for students to get to experience and get a feel for their colleges' environment, and many would claim it is essential in creating a well-informed decision regarding their college choice.

     “My top choices are ECU and Campbell and so I think [the cancelling of tours] definitely affected that because I’ve only been to those two schools,” senior Gaby Hernandez said. “I haven’t really had the chance to tour other schools, so that went into my decision making.” 

     However, the Common Application, which is a site many high school seniors use to apply to colleges, has taken notice of the vast impact the virus has had on students across the country. To address this, Common App has added a new optional question to their application, which asks the applicant to elaborate on the impact of the pandemic, both personally and academically. 

     Many seniors such as Hernandez chose to not answer the optional question, feeling the question would be better suited to be answered by those who were most heavily affected by COVID-19.

     “I have a friend who got the virus and his family was really impacted by it; they lost a loved one and I just feel like I wasn’t as impacted,” Hernandez said. “Although it definitely impacted my applying process, how I hang out with my friends and everything, I feel like so many other people were impacted harder than me, and I felt that question was more for them.”

       Like everything else, the college application process has been significantly altered because of the pandemic. However, the decision as to whether these changes will stand to be permanent still remains, and uncertainty persists as to how these changes will affect college acceptance.

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