College Admissions… But Through a Screen: How is it Affecting Students

Caroline White '21 and Emily Bruck '21

Around the world, people’s lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 Pandemic; jobs lost, schools closed, events canceled, businesses shut down or forced to operate remotely. For current seniors, the college application process has been turned completely upside down. From canceled SAT’s to virtual campus tours, nothing seems to be working out how the class of 2021 expected it would. Some students fear for next year as well, and are opting to apply to schools closer to home. No one knows what is to come in the next months or even years, and this is heavily reflected in every part of the college application process. 

Seniors are facing a college admissions process never before seen: entirely virtual. Almost all universities have stopped hosting in-person tours and information sessions as they try to maintain a COVID-free bubble on campus. This is an essential part of keeping their students and staff safe, but it poses a difficult situation to all of the Class of 2021. How do seniors successfully apply with a process that looks so different? 

 WHS Senior Julia French describes feeling lost: “I feel lost without the same touring opportunities,” she continues, “everything has shifted online, and although there are a lot of resources available to me, it has presented a new challenge to Seniors we haven’t seen before this year.” 

Senior Eva Drotch is having a hard time because she can’t visit the schools as of right now. Drotch says, “It’s hard to know where you see yourself at this point.” 

Senior James Fitzgibbons comments, “It’s tough to narrow down the schools we want to apply to when we don’t have the ability to do a physical tour…” 

Fitzgibbons thinks the virtual tours are simply not comparable to physical visits. 

Senior Aj McLucas calls it all unfamiliar, pointing out that the college admissions process is “constantly changing,” making it hard to navigate, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

Every student can agree that it’s difficult to truly get to know a university over the internet. In a nutshell, the college admissions process for current high school seniors is anything but normal.

With so many standardized test cancellations, schools have been forced to go test-optional. For some students, this is a blessing, and for others, a curse. The Common Application has added an optional writing section dedicated to the pandemic, where students can share how the pandemic has affected their lives. This gives students a chance to explain missed extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities and share how they worked through their hardships. 

Julie Chapman, Director of Recruitment Partnerships at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Admissions says, “Colleges will certainly take into consideration altered extracurriculars, canceled competitions, changes to part times jobs and internships, and increased obligations at home.”

As with everything else in the world right now, the college application process is full of uncertainty. Counselors and students alike are working together to adapt and find new ways to go about applying to college, and ultimately choosing the university that will be right for them.

Chapman encourages students to reach out to college admissions offices. 

She shares, “We are here to help!”