Just like the latest ad campaigns, there’s no escaping news about the impact of COVID-19 on the college process. Will students report to campuses in the fall? Will juniors have their chance to test – and retest? Will virtual tours be enough for your student? At unCommon Apps, we aim to keep you posted.
Standardized Testing: Hitches and Glitches
Shocker! College Board and ACT both announced that they will be in touch with test-takers the week of May 26 about (priority) registration. That’s next week! Some parents and students are horrified by the ACT’s statement, which included, ” . . . as ACT and other agencies navigate ongoing developments, testing at any test center is subject to change at any time between now and June 13, 2020.” After all, students spend time, energy and money to gear up for the tests, only to have the uncertainty drag on. In addition, ACT has yet to state much about its June 20, 2020, back-up date. (See below.)
Parents: If your student is applying to a highly selective college – or if they aim to receive merit aid – they really should attempt the test; think summer and early fall. If they may need the test, it will still be a good exercise to take it but with relaxed prep and low stress.
ACT: June 13 or 20; July 18; September 12; October 24
SAT: August 29; September 26; October 3
There are more dates; these are emphasized for rising seniors.
September is the targeted rollout for ACT section retesting, which it has been hyping for quite some time. Earlier this week, this college counselor joined in an ACT webinar to find out more. Here’s a recap:
- The section retesting is online only.
- It will be offered at testing centers, not at home.
- A student can take between one and three sections again.
- The student can only use section retesting if they have taken a full paper test.
College Board is also the owner of the AP tests, given in a take-at-home version the past two weeks. While CB reported overwhelming successful experiences, some unfortunate students were unable to upload their results, triggering a message that they would need to retake the test in June. Horrible! Over the weekend, College Board announced a backup email procedure.
Colleges Continue to Go Holistic
Every week, more colleges join the test-optional cohort, which now includes William & Mary, Villanova, RIT and Elon. If students flood applicant pools because they think admissions will be easier, the probability that they’ll be accepted will decrease (while colleges will show their increasing selectivity).
“It’s also important to note that ‘test-optional’ does not mean ‘test-blind.’ We will still consider test scores as part of the holistic review, if they are submitted. But we don’t want them to be a barrier, especially as students respond to the current pandemic.” –William & Mary Admissions
“While SAT/ACT results have been a part of our application process, we have always taken a holistic approach to our decision making. Grades, strength of curriculum, essays, extra-curricular activities and recommendations all remain important components of our admission review. Under this policy, students may choose whether or not to submit SAT and/or ACT results for consideration when submitting their applications.” –Villanova Admissions
Then there’s the big testing news out of The University of California. Not only has the UC system gone test-optional for next year, but UC is going test-blind for residents while creating its own standardized test! An Inside Higher Ed article shared this content from a UC document: “The university can also exercise its leadership in making available to students a properly designed and administered test that adds value to admissions decisions, enhances equity and access for more students, has a positive impact on student preparation, and does so in a manner that reduces the social and monetary burdens associated with the currently required ACT/SAT tests.”
Common App Adjusts for Coronavirus with Short Essay
unCommon students know what would happen if they were to write their Common App Personal Essay about COVID-19: It would look like thousands of others! Fortunately, the people at Common App have added a prompt for an optional 250-word essay:
“Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.”
This space is intended for those whose access was seriously affected.
Public Health, Mountain Hawk Style
The novel coronavirus has raised awareness of public health education, and Lehigh has a solution: programs offered through its College of Health. It already has established a BS in Population Health. According to Dean Whitney Witt, “We teach students about the multiple determinants of health, data analytics, and the translation of research into practice . . . We are looking for students who have a passion for health data science, social epidemiology, and health innovation and technology.”
Fallout from COVID-19?
If you’re the parent of a senior, you are rightfully concerned about what’s going on for the fall. College officials have proposed a variety of models, including assigning freshmen to campus and upperclassmen off campus or having half the class live and the other half remote, then switching. An article in the Journal postulates that rural universities may be ready to go earlier than urban universities: “For those who would rather go back to college in the fall, urban institutions can craft a domestic version of a study-abroad program, where students spend a semester or two at rural colleges that are able to reopen. Such a network of institutions could help to address the urban-rural divide by sharing academic resources, exchanging students and faculty, attracting young talent to rural areas and strengthening smaller rural colleges and universities that are crucial anchors for their communities.”
At Trinity College (CT), freshmen are welcome to enroll in J-Start, allowing them to begin in January 2020. University of Miami’s President Julio Frenk called for moving large classes that would have been in lecture halls online. He announced an opening plan that includes testing, contact-tracing and getting flu shots.
While Boston College wants to start on August 31 as planned, the University of Notre Dame announced that students will report two weeks ahead of schedule and finish at Thanksgiving. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, ‘Details of how often students would be tested, whether older faculty or those with pre-existing conditions would teach in person classes or even if students will wear masks, have yet to be settled.”
BC intends to open on schedule.
The University of South Carolina (the original USC!) will send students home to remote learning after Thanksgiving. The University of South Carolina (the original USC!) will send students home to remote learning after Thanksgiving. As the Journal points out, football is huge at those institutions.
Football or not, college towns will suffer huge economic hits with virtual learning. In Blacksburg, Virginia, Virginia Tech’s 35,000 students fuel the local economy. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Large colleges and universities employ thousands, buy local goods and services and draw tens of thousands of students and visitors to their stores, restaurants and hotels.”
If your student is ready to tackle 2020-21, or if you have any questions about the ever-changing college process, just reach out. I’m here to help differentiate your student.