Coronavirus? College Admissions?



Three three-letter words that help make millions of decisions for college admissions officers during the fall. They’re weighted so immensely in the college database that almost all juniors plan to submit such test scores or numerical rankings to colleges in hopes of receiving acceptance. For decades, these stats have played an integral part in the college admissions process within the US education system. But this year, in 2020, it looks like their significance has diminished temporarily due to an unexpected pandemic: COVID-19, or more well known as the coronavirus.

Well, for some juniors, class of 2021, this may be exciting news. Students who find standardized testing as a weakness in their college application can take advantage of this situation as an opportunity to strengthen their candidacy. I, for sure, felt this way upon hearing the delay of standardized testing and a transition to pass or fail grades. But, as I thought more about it, I came to realize that this significant change in the application could be detrimental to our success in the college race.

For one thing, having only three semesters to evaluate students is not an ideal measure in terms of assessing overtime growth or trends in high school transcripts. Some students blossom around the end of their high school career, late junior and ongoing senior year. For such students, which I believe are many, this change in perspective on school transcripts and GPA could be a major flaw in applying for colleges that value high numbers, of which some students can only attain later on. Additionally, in putting so much weight into GPAs for student evaluations, it’s hard to imagine how school admissions officers will be able to differentiate a clouded jumble of numbers to which every last digit can produce a plethora of potential applicants.

Now, in talking about standardized testing, as of recent, several colleges and even the UC board have announced their exemption from required SAT/ACT scores for the upcoming year. For me, this situation unfolds under two valid perspectives: those who rely on test scores to prove their academic abilities and those who are unfairly limited to test-taking opportunities. Under the first situation, those students who have successfully completed their SAT/ACTs may find this announcement unappealing when considering the number of hours and effort they put into gaining such high scores. It’s definitely a disturbing reality for these students and I find this understandable. However, from the other perspective, it’s also reasonable that colleges renounce standardized testing requirements this year because most students in the US have probably not taken the test yet. College Board and ACT Inc. shut down their testing sites in March, which is when most juniors start taking their first standardized test.

As a member of the class of 2021, such changes to the college admissions process have definitely been concerning. The college process is already stressful enough without unforeseen alterations, and I can only imagine what is in store for us juniors later this year. While COVID-19 has definitely taken a toll on the physical health of the population, the virus has also taken a toll on the mental health of students as well, especially rising juniors.

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