Photo by Phoebe Rusch
College applications have always been somewhat of a stressful time for seniors, but because of COVID-19, many of those seniors have lost out on opportunities to start organizing college essays and filling out college applications that they would’ve gotten at the end of their junior year.
This year, many college tours have been virtual and only recently been available for in-person tours. One way colleges are trying to make applying less stressful, however, is being test-optional this year, allowing students an advantage and making applying to colleges less stressful. According to the website Ed Surge, 1,600 colleges are now test optional.
“Some colleges have become less selective and the applications are more lenient this year,” senior Vedang Verma said. “Especially for the more selective colleges like Northwestern, UIUC, and Stanford. However, I do think that people who have a good SAT score are at a big advantage.”
According to the website The Conversation, personality in a student could mean more than ever since test scores are optional. Writing college essays has become more important than ever because they can show a student’s personality and how they see the world, along with their personal experiences that make a student really stand out from the rest.
Although many students may have switched to a fail or pass grades and might worry that this will affect their college admissions opportunities, colleges understand that this time is unique. Students should continue to press on and complete the college admissions process.
“The most difficult part for me has been finding the motivation to do my applications because it’s been hard for me to think about my future when I don’t know what it will look like due to COVID,” senior Lindsey Foutch said.
As a result of the school year going remote last year, some students did not get the opportunity to work on college essays. Some senior level teachers have recognized this and are incorporating lessons into their classes to address this.
“We’ve talked a little bit about applying to college in my Speech class. We talked a little bit about how to write a good essay and what kind of things you can do to stand out from your peers,” Foutch said. “I found this very helpful because it helped inform me about what college admissions look for and what you can do to stand out.”
According to Verma, he also enjoys the help that teachers are bringing to seniors, like teacher recommendations. Teacher recommendations are important because they add clarity and insight to what a student’s personality and work ethic is like.
“You have to be able to collaborate with people and teachers,” Verma said. “Being able to have people to bounce ideas off of and having supportive teachers that you like and get along with is so important. It can really help bring your applications to the next level.”
Counselors have also realized the importance of helping out seniors with their college applications. They try to put out helpful information, like sending out transcripts and test scores.
“We met with seniors through senior core to talk about the application process,” counselor William Brown said. “Our college counselor made YouTube videos to explain all the different processes.”
Foutch has been to a few of these Zoom workshops. According to Foutch, she has found them helpful. In contrast, Brown believes these Zoom workshops will never be able to replace how helpful in-person training is.
This year many high schools and colleges are entering the school year with the goal to put less stress on seniors as much as possible. In this pandemic, many schools are adjusting.
“Apply early to show interest,” Brown said. “ College is a business and if you get your application in early and you meet the requirements you will have a better chance of getting in.”