Coronavirus pandemic affecting college application process

Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 2:06 PM CDT
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The coronavirus pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of daily life. With schools closed, high school students may be wondering how this public health scare will affect their process of getting into college.

Experts say it’s going to change the way colleges evaluate students’ resumes, and the student will need to make college entrance exams like the SAT and the ACT an even higher priority than before.

“The ACT and the SAT are probably, possibly, going to be an even higher portion of the college admission process that they are going to be looking for since so many students are not in school finishing out their courses for credit,” explained Christi Davis, the Director of Huntington Learning Center in Montgomery, who works with students every day to prepare for these test and prepare their college resumes and applications.

Davis is working with high school students who would normally list all of their extra-curricular activities on a college application, but are no longer involved in those activities since schools are closed and after school programs have been canceled for the rest of the year. She’s reminding them, that everyone is in the same situation.

“Every single student throughout the United States is in the same situation right now. Students are not actively playing sports, they are not playing in the band, they are not in their school plays, they are not able to volunteer. So you have to realize at this point everybody's on an even keel,” Davis said. “So, there again, that's why the ACT and the SAT scores are so important, because if the colleges are only now looking at GPA and admission test, now you take out that whole aspect of what have they done extra-curricular wise to beef up that resume.”

The good news is that the next time the ACT and SAT will be offered is in June, so that gives students about two and a half months to prepare. Davis is telling her students to use this downtime wisely.

“Take advantage of the opportunity they have right now to really prep for these tests. The ACT and SAT are extremely important for college admission, but there’s never been a time when students have as much downtime as they do right now. So they need to take advantage of it, they need to be prepping for these tests whenever they are offered again.”

As for parents who are worried about the process, and how the coronavirus will affect their children’s college application process, Davis urged them not to panic.

“Stay calm. Everyone needs to just stay calm and realize that we’re all in the same boat together. We’re going to get through it and we’re going to come out on the other side,” she assured. “But I would also say take advantage of the time. These students still need to be reading. They need to learn independent critical thinking and reading skills, they need to learn study skills, they need to learn time management. And what better way to do that than to do it through your home, your computer, all of the things they’re going to be faced with when they go off and go to college, the independence they’re going to be giving versus a high school level classroom.”

The National Association for College Admission Counseling has encouraged colleges to be flexible with deadlines.

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