College Admissions in an Age of Contagion

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has called for a few changes to the college application and admissions process. In this post, I review changes to the senior college admissions experience.  In my next post, I will review changes to college application process for juniors.

One thing has not changed: most seniors should have received admissions decisions by April 1. If a specific university has delayed its admissions decision date, seniors should have received notification of this within the online student account created when they first applied.

What has changed: admitted student visits and overnights. Accepted seniors typically have the option to attend “get to know you” events along with fellow accepted students during the month of April. These events, which can help a student make a final choice of which college to attend for the next four years, have been cancelled or replaced with a virtual event at colleges across the country.

As a nod to this unique situation, a growing number of colleges, such as Emerson College, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Williams College, are extending the yes/no and deposit decision deadlines for admitted students to June 1, or even later.

The National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) offers a handy directory that summarizes changes to the admissions process for each school as a result of the COVID-19. Seniors should also check their admitted student portal or contact the admission department directly if they have a specific question.

Advanced Placement (AP) exams are also changing. The traditional face-to-face exams, administered by a proctor in a classroom, will not take place. Instead, the College Board is developing 45-minute online free-response AP exams students can take at home. The exams will focus on content which most schools completed by early March.

The College Board is also offering free live streaming AP review courses. The full exam schedule, with two test dates options for each exam, will be announced on Friday April 3. The College Board has confirmed that colleges and universities will accept AP scores from exams taken under these conditions. Any student who is registered for an AP exam that is dissatisfied with these accommodations may also cancel their test registration and receive a full refund. More information is available from the College Board.

University admissions offices understand that students’ high school education is being disrupted, and that final transcripts might look a bit different this year. Therefore, universities will be prepared to see final transcripts that may include different grading systems such as pass/fail or credit/no credit, or even transcripts that reflect an abbreviated school year.

The good news: many college bookstores, while not open to the public, are still fulfilling online orders, so once you’ve committed to the college of your choice, nab some swag!  Wear your school colors proudly, even if your classmates may only admire your gear remotely.