Here are a few more bits of information and thoughts on the effect of the pandemic in college admissions:
COVID WRITING-The Common App is considering adding an optional section for applicants to write about how the quarantine effected their life. I think this would be a positive development that will allow students to share the impact but focus their core essay on something that reflects their experience and growth over a longer period of time, not just the past few months.
FALL OPENING-The million dollar question is will colleges and universities be able to welcome students back to their campuses at the end of the summer? So much could happen between now and August, one would need a crystal ball to determine the future. I heard a chief enrollment officer at a selective school share that in the middle of February, it occurred to them that they might need to reschedule their first Admitted Student event. This seemed like a horrible prospect and less than a month later, the entire campus was closed. At this point all schools are creating contingency options and I think that colleges and universities will start to announce their plans for the fall in the coming weeks.
IMPACT-I had a conversation with a student from the class of 2022 and they were lamenting that the class of 2021 was going to have so many choices of test-optional schools and they were sorry that they were not necessarily going to have the same choices the following year. I explained that actually, the class of 2021 might have an incredibly selective admissions cycle. If campuses are not able to offer classes in person this fall, I think there is going to be a significant slice of freshman that opt to defer and upper classmen that choose to take time off instead of completing another semester online. The same demographics that make the waitlist more favorable this year (which I wrote about here) could make seats in the fall of 2021 more scarce. One admission professional said that this could have a cascading effect for the next few years.
SILVER LININGS-Colleges have done an incredible job innovating on the fly. Since they have not been able to welcome prospective students to their physical campuses, they have turned on a dime and offered an amazing array of opportunities to engage with their campuses online. There are live presentations, YouTube channels, virtual tours and more. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that you can learn more than ever about a campus from the comfort of your own home. An admissions officer shared a story that they were speaking with a family that was choosing between two schools and they said that instead of spending a few hours on campus and going with their gut feeling, they were engaging on a much deeper level than if their student had simply attended an Accepted Student event. The websites are better than ever and schools are tracking demonstrated interest, so when you interact with them online, they have a record of your involvement.
That is all I have for now but I am sure I will be back with more information as events unfold. The other day I heard John Mayer say, “Yesterday was two weeks ago” and that pretty much sums it up. As more information is revealed, I will be sure to share. In the meantime, I hope you and your loved ones are all healthy and well.