The college application process from home

Laila Hill

COVID-19 has had a drastic effect on the college application process this year. With the erasure of some sports, clubs and extracurricular activities, some students have been robbed from participating in the activities that define them the most. Their individuality may be more important than ever when attempting to stand out from thousands of other students. 

Though every college differs in its application process, one thing has been made clear because of COVID-19: the applications themself will be very different and absent of parts required from previous years. Additionally, for some, grades may be incomplete on report cards along with missing SAT and ACT scores.

Some colleges are making it a “test-optional” year though, meaning students can choose if they want to submit their ACT and SAT scores. Many application deadlines have been pushed back significantly too in comparison to previous years, meaning students will be getting results back later than usual.

Seniors have had mixed feelings about the application process.

I feel like the process of it all has been easier, mainly because the NTI workload is much less than the normal school workload, which gives us more time to focus on perfecting applications and scholarship essays. However, it felt harder at the beginning of the application process as I had to navigate through the Common App using online resources rather than asking my counselors and teachers for help as I had planned,” said Laila Hayes (12, MST) said.

Adeleke Goring (12, YPAS) has felt the more stressful side of things.

“Overall, the process for applying for colleges has been full of stress and confusion. Because of school moving virtual, I haven’t had much opportunity to discuss my plans with my counselors or to be able to consult with teachers as seniors are typically able to do. I have had to figure out the processes on my own and do a lot of my research and planning over the summer so I was prepared to begin applications in the fall,” Goring said.

Goring, who plans on going into the performing arts field, would’ve gone in-person to audition for schools and had the opportunity to tour and to meet professors; but due to COVID-19, he has had to prepare his audition materials and adjust to the online format for his performance.  

“My auditions are upcoming and I’ve heard stories of schools having technical problems during auditions. This is an added stress during a very important audition. Also, I am aware that all of the schools I applied to have adopted test-optional and test flexible admission policies which is a big step towards more holistic admissions processes,” Goring said.

 Maya Hardin (12, VA), who plans on going to an international UK college, expressed that the process has been “somewhat difficult, but still not too bad.”

 In the UK, all students have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). The application is open universally, and once completed, the UCAS will send it out to any five schools of the student’s choice.

“That helped in spending a bunch of time on applying to separate colleges. The part that made it more difficult were the differences,” Hardin said.

Unlike the United States, the UK has a vastly different grading and testing system. Additionally, students will need to take into consideration the process of figuring out if a college would sponsor a student visa. Fortunately, many schools will assist in the visa process and even sponsor a visa depending on the course one applies to.

“I recommend looking into international schools for any juniors trying to save some money and who appreciate traveling,” Hardin said. “For degrees, it is similar to trade school. Many schools will only teach students what is needed for the career they are looking to go into. There are no English, math, science, etc credits needed, and the degree you applied for is the only thing you will be studying. That’s one of the many reasons why a lot of international schools are only three years.”

With COVID-19’s extension over time, juniors will also be going through the same process that seniors have faced. 

“The college application process is going good but all in all a big blur I’m just going with the flow right now looking at colleges that send me stuff. Most challenging is staying entertained and active because I’m in my house it could be hard to move away from a screen,” Ernest Bowen (11, HSU) said.

One of the biggest changes is that many college campus tours have been canceled because of COVID-19, and in response, there have been virtual meetings for students to attend in make-up for information. However, it still takes away from a big component of the college applying experience. 

“I want to go to college for sports studies, computer science, or biomedical engineering. The only thing is that COVID makes it harder to travel so I can’t go to campuses, and a lot of them are not doing tours as well,” Bowen said.

But even with a modified process, seniors have adapted to the changes; most of the application deadlines have already passed.

“My advice to juniors is to not stress out too much. Take everything step by step and use a whole bunch of spreadsheets to keep everything in order and also to make yourself accountable at making progress in the process each day,” Adeleke Goring said (12, YPAS) said.