The college admissions process in a normal year is full of uncertainty and anxiety. Add a global pandemic into the mix and things are really upside down. High school students have had all the normal measurements of their work taken away. None of what we are all experiencing is normal. I know not having the normalcy of school and life stripped away is not easy, especially for teens who are on their road to being independent and autonomous without us parents. Online learning is a challenge for teachers, students and parents. Now is the time to trust that things will be ok. Colleges are thinking about all of this too, and they want the best for students in this process. None of us are exempt from the impact of COVID-19.
I know the move to pass/fail or credit/no credit has caused a lot of stress and frustration for current high schoolers (especially juniors). Many states around the country have mandated pass/fail across their state. Please remember that you are evaluated in the context of your own school. The colleges you apply to know what kind of classes are offered at your school and how that grading system works. You will not be penalized for not having grades, nor will you be compared to students who have different grading at their school. That being said, do your best and keep up with your school work. Your grades are evaluated over 3-4 years, not just a few months.
Every day there are more schools announcing testing changes. Test optional is different that test suspension and is different school-to-school. Schools that evaluate applicants holistically, meaning beyond GPA and test score, will take a different approach to this than schools that are suspending testing for this admissions cycle and don’t have a holistic approach. While we don’t know when testing will take place (and it might look different), I would still take the SAT/ACT if you were planning on it. You can decide whether or not to submit your scores before you send in your college applications.
Extracurriculars and Leadership
The Emory University Admissions Officer wrote a great letter to juniors and sophomores. Here’s what she wrote about extracurriculars and leadership:
- Leadership doesn’t always come with a title. Your humanity and ability to engage with your own family, friends, and neighbors right now supports the well-being of the broader community.
- Leverage this time to think deeply. Read for the joy of imagination, creativity, or curiosity. Connect with those you have been wanting to for quite some time but just didn’t seem to have the time before, regardless of who they are.
- Be patient and present. Listen to your thoughts, and do good every day with what is around you. Be hopeful and be kind. Be good to one another. That matters today and tomorrow.
We don’t know how things will look or be impacted by COVID-19, but please trust that you will do great things and what you are experiencing and doing right now is for the greater good of humanity. Things will work out, maybe even for the better!