By Amanda Mack, News Editor
At this point in the year, most seniors have accomplished yet another task during the pandemic, applying to college. In a normal year, college applications require a significant amount of time and dedication. Add in a pandemic, and the process becomes even harder. Luckily, colleges recognize the extra challenges that students are facing this year, and are taking that into consideration.
Due to Covid-19 travel bans, many students have applied to schools without having visited the campus. Students are deciding where they want to spend the next chapter of their life without actually having visited that place. Thankfully, all spring, summer, and fall, colleges offered many virtual events such as tours, information sessions, Q&A’s, student panels, interviews, etc. However, in order to truly know if the school is for you, most students feel it is important to walk around the campus and picture themselves there. Senior Reese Burns attended a few different virtual college events, and she believes that she, “learned a lot about each school but it’s definitely not the same as being on campus. I think there is something really important about being able to physically visit schools because it gives you the chance to really visualize yourself as a student there.”
The upside of the pandemic this year is that many schools went test-optional, meaning they are not requiring students to submit ACT and SAT scores. Some students still wanted to take the test, and on Nantucket, most that wanted to were able. In other areas, tests were canceled and rescheduled often, leaving students frustrated and stressed out. Many colleges realize the amount of stress surrounding standardized testing during the pandemic and have made it clear that they will not require anyone to submit their test scores. In an update on Boston University’s standardized test policy, Associate Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions, Kelly Walter, expressed, “By going test-optional, BU hopes to do our part to minimize the heightened stress around standardized testing that many students are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Pandemic or not, standardized testing has always been difficult for students who do not do well during that format of testing. Senior Maddie Iller acknowledged, “it was really amazing not to have to submit test scores because I am not someone who typically does well on standardized tests. I am a good student, but when it comes to standardized tests, I feel like it’s not an accurate representation of my knowledge, and the testing environment becomes quite overwhelming.”
Another upside is that the Common Application, the platform on which students submit their applications, created a space for students to write about the impact of Covid-19 on their life. Whether they and their families have had to experience sickness, death, unemployment, housing loss, or declining mental health, it is evident that many students have been faced with unexpected circumstances. Providing a space for students to talk about their experiences helps colleges get a better sense of who the student is, and might give some explanation as to why something from their application or resume has changed within the past eleven months.
Now that all applications have been submitted, the last step of this process is to choose a school. For some students, this decision is already made if they applied Early Decision and got accepted, or if they applied Early Action and got into their top school. Others who applied Regular Decision will have to wait a little bit longer to find out their admission decisions. Applying Early Decision means that if the student gets accepted, they are required to go to that school, and withdraw their applications from other schools. Applying Early Action does not bind the student to the school. It is simply a chance to submit your application earlier and in return hear your decision earlier. Applying regular decisions does not bind the student to the school either. It is the final round of applications that admissions looks at, and leaves students hearing their decision between March and early April. This still leaves plenty of time for students to choose a school before the deadline of May 1st. Until then, seniors will begin working on scholarship applications to assist in paying for whatever school they choose.
Going into it, the college application process can seem completely overwhelming. It can feel like you are a small fish in a big sea. So, for anyone planning on applying to college in the future, senior Camie Strojny offers some great advice. Her biggest recommendation is to “never doubt yourself in thinking you won’t be able to get into a school because it is more than just grades. It is also about character, service, involvement, and leadership. Do not let others’ opinions stop you from applying to a competitive school. If you do not get into your desired school, that school wasn’t the one for you and they don’t deserve you anyways.”