How the Coronavirus has Changed the College Application Process

Sharon Yang and Jack Varney

 

Kids are stressed after having lost junior planning to quarantine-a lot of kids are struggling to motivate themselves to begin their college process. (Jack Varney)

Right now, there are many seniors who are experiencing difficulties carrying out their college application process; between the pandemic changing our way of life, the Covid-19 virus itself, and the new schedule and online schooling, many seniors are struggling to stay motivated.

Seniors this year are upset with the changes wrought on our future plans for college or work by the COVID-19 pandemic. Missing out on opportunities to make money, tour colleges, and extracurricular activities, seniors are struggling to maintain their goals for after high school. 

With the pandemic closing down schools in mid-March, the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 had very different experiences in terms of their senior years. For starters, seniors last year were able to experience a regular first half of the year. Both groups would experience online school together once schools closed down. At Hall High School, these online classes were short and not required. However, this would carry over into the next school year and seniors this year face the challenges of online school again. The year started with a hybrid schedule that was confusing to both students and teachers. However, the schedule would change again and extend the school day and lead to many unhappy students. The abrupt change in scheduling led to students suddenly having less time to do work outside of school, notably finishing college applications. A majority of seniors last year had already finished applying to college before quarantine started. Seniors this year will have to deal with the stress of online classes while applying to college at the same time. 

 

Here we see that the amount of class time at WHPS has doubled from what we had last year, leaving less time for students to work on their college applications.
(Sharon Yang)

A significant part of college applications is submitting test scores. For the class of 2021, schools shut down about a week before Hall juniors were supposed to take their SATs. They were given the opportunity to take it in September, but students still felt that their final scores had been impacted. Many students don’t have the ability to take the SAT again. “I missed more than 4 SAT dates because of the pandemic,” said Jeffrey Kuang, a senior at Hall. Other students faced problems related to studying, such as Ben Levine, another senior at Hall, who said the cancelation in March had thrown off his schedule for preparing for the SATs.  Due to these kinds of issues, many colleges are test optional this year. However, standardized tests still were and still are a huge stressor for students this year. 

Many seniors this year felt as though they weren’t given as much direction in how they should be preparing to apply. Juniors at Hall are required to take Junior Seminar, a short class that instructed students how to prepare for college. With this being cut short, many students feel lost. “I noticed that this year’s kids were behind in the process, they didn’t really have their college essays done, they weren’t asking teachers for [letters of recommendation],” said Kelly Fransen, a teacher at Hall. These steps are crucial to being able to apply to college and not knowing how to take the right ones just add to the stress already created by the strain of online school. 

“Many fear that the coronavirus pandemic will exacerbate existing inequalities among college students.” wrote Careers Reporter Abigail Hess. Low-income students who need financial help might not have access to online schooling; some students must work to help provide for their families, some might not have access to internet, or a computer, or have access to stable housing. This disparity has raised concerns about low-income students missing out on the opportunities given to wealthy students. Additionally, college tuition appears to be on the rise this year. 

The coronavirus has also hit colleges hard financially, which ultimately impacts low income students and their ability to attend college even after getting accepted. At the University of Connecticut, a college many Hall alumni attend, are “facing a $76 million deficit in the current fiscal year, “ according to Thomas Katsouleas, the UConn President. This deficit means the university will have to cut back on the financial aid program and Katsouleas believes that more students this year will be qualified for this program due to the economic turmoil of the pandemic. 

So what will next year look like for the class of 2021? Many college campuses have already shut down this year or had to adapt in some way. At UConn, students have been asked to not return to campus after Thanksgiving Break until the spring semester to limit coronavirus surges. If there’s no significant change to how the government handles the coronavirus in the coming months, the college freshmen next year might face a similar experience, a year of confusion and uncertainty.