Because of COVID - 19, many students may think that the college admission process will be harder than usual or more confusing, at the very least. If you are feeling like your world is coming apart, and you already gave up on attending your dream college or university, don’t despair! You may use this time in a clever way and even gain a competitive advantage in your college admissions. Here is how: Remember, COVID - 19 is not a good excuse for students to stop doing what they need to get into the college of their first choice. You can still do a lot to demonstrate your intellectual ability and strength to the college admissions officers. Now, you may even have more time to do things you could not do before: online classes, dream projects, research, enjoy your favorite books, and prepare for the test - yes, tests still matter. To explore how you can re-create your summer,go to this video.

To ease the pain of my chickens ( I call all my students 🐤chickens ), I decided to chat with Beth Cashel, an expert college admissions consultant. Beth explained what high school students can still do and how they can handle the college admissions process.

[Beth] As of now, most schools don’t foresee changing any of their deadlines. The biggest change that is happening right now is that many schools are going “test-optional.”

IMPORTANT: It doesn’t mean that schools are becoming test - blind. Test optional simply says that colleges are not going to REQUIRE that you provide an SAT/ACT score. However, many schools will still consider a standardized test score as a solid indicator of your college readiness. Let me give you an example: since the University of Chicago went test-optional in 2018, their acceptance rate dropped to a low 6% (read it as they admitted a lower percentage of applicants than before going test-optional), and they still mostly admitted students who provided solid test scores. Many think of going test-optional as a marketing trick for colleges since more students are going to apply for admission when test scores are not required. “What do I have to lose” mentality kicks in. This year, going test-optional is not a marketing strategy, it is a necessary measure to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. As many of you know, spring and summer testing was compromised by the pandemic across the world. I want you to know that most colleges are going to become test-optional, but they are not going to become test-blind. Please don’t conflate (vocab word that means combine) those two.

What is test-blind, then?

Some schools are going test-blind, which means that your standardized scores will not affect your admissions in any way. The list of test-blind colleges is short, but Hampshire college is a good example. Under this system, admissions officers will not consider students’ standardized test scores when reviewing applications.

Is Cornell really going to be test-optional?

The short answers is probably - NO.

Cornell concedes that they will allow students to submit applications without a standardized test score, but they maintain that the SAT and ACT scores will still play an important role in admission decisions. Additionally, they encourage students to take the test if they live near a testing center that will be open or if they haven’t experienced significant, life-changing hardship over COVID-19. In order words, you have to have a VERY good reason to not be providing test scores.

Please see a blurb from their website. They state that In Cornell’s review during 2020-2021 application cycle, results from the AC Tand SAT might still be a meaningful differentiator in particular for students who :

  • Live near or attend a school that will be open, and where testing will be offered, or who live near a testing center that will be offering more testing seats or dates than they did in 2019; and
  • Have not experienced lost income for one or more of their household providers or other significant new hardships and losses during 2020.

Since many students will not be attending their summer internship, summer programs and grades will mostly be pass or fail, testing will help you stand out in a major way. And now, you have time to study!!!

What about the Early Decision deadlines? Will those be postponed due to COVID - 19?

[Beth] As for the early decision dates in November, everyone should plan to proceed as normal.

In the meantime, you have more time to work on your essays, recommendation letters, extracurriculars, and test - prep. Yes, we still want you to prep for the test.

‼️If you are able to take the standardized test, then TAKE IT‼️

Even before COVID - 19, many of my students were texting and asking me whether their schools had a test-optional policy and whether it was a good idea to not take the test at all. I realize that for many students standardized testing seems like an added burden. However, the SAT and ACT scores become super reliable tools that provide colleges invaluable information about how prepared you are for your future academic journey. Tests appear to be the backbone of college admissions, and they have been a mainstay of college admissions for many years

Think about it: the curriculum varies drastically from school to school. If you have friends that go to different schools or even friends in different classes with different teachers, you know that the rigor and the volume of work fluctuate greatly. Sometimes you get more work, sometimes they cancel your gaming night because they are working on the bio project that was a breeze in your class.

How would you feel if both you and another applicant ( let’s call him John) both had a B+ in US history? You had to work extra hard to earn that B+ while John hardly applied himself because his history class was easy. In the eyes of the admission officer, you both had a B+ and possess a similar level of skill. In reality, you had a harder time because you were reading primary docs, doing research, learning vocabulary, and mastering communication skills, and John watched discovery channels and played animal crossing. I am sure you are not feeling so rosy about John right now. Such disparity in rigor in schools and classes makes it very hard for college admissions officers to make any decision solely based on your grades. Some say that teachers have their favorites (allegedly) and artificially inflate grades of some students. Standardized tests remove such inequalities and injustices because your time spent on reading primary documents will help you discern the difficult SAT and ACT reading passages and answer questions correctly.

Theref🅾️re, taking the standardized test can only be advantageous for you. It’s additional data about your intellectual ability.

Below is a list of schools that will allow you to submit applications without a score aka test-optional.

Here is the list of the Colleges that went on a Test-optional because of COVID - 19 ⬇️⬇️⬇️

🔵 Adelphi College (New York)

🔵 Alabama A & M University

🔵 Alabama State University

🔵 Albion College (Michigan)

🔵 Alma College (Michigan) – previously test-optional only for applicants with HSGPA of 2.75 or higher Austin Peay State University (Tennessee) for applicants with HSGPA of 2.85 or higher

🔵 Auburn University at Montgomery (Alabama)

🔵 Bismarck State College (North Dakota)

🔵 Brigham Young University – Idaho

🔵Cleveland State College (Ohio)

🔵 Clarion University (Pennsylvania)

🔵 Cottey College (Missouri)

🔵 Eastern Michigan University

🔵 Emmanuel College (Georgia)

🔵 Fairmont State University (West Virginia)

🔵Indiana University Kokomo (other Indiana University campuses are fully test-optional)

🔵 Indiana University Northwest (other Indiana University campuses are fully test-optional)

🔵 Indiana Wesleyan University (Indiana)

🔵 Iowa Wesleyan University (Iowa)

🔵Jackson State University (Mississippi)

🔵 Kent State University (Ohio) for applicants with high school GPAs of 3.2 or above

🔵 Kutztown University (Pennsylvania)

🔵 Lamar University (Texas)

🔵 Limestone College (South Carolina)

🔵 Lock Haven University (New York)

🔵 Longwood University (Virginia)

🔵 Malone University (Ohio)

🔵 Mansfield University (Pennsylvania)

🔵 McMurry University (Tennessee) for applicants with high school GPAs of 3.0 and above

🔵 Midway University (Kentucky)

🔵 Millersville University (Pennsylvania – previously test-optional only for local applicants)

🔵Millikin University (Illinois)

🔵 Minnesota State University, Mankato for applicants with 3.0 GPAs and top half of high school class Minnesota State University, Moorhead

🔵 Mississippi College

🔵 Newberry College (South Carolina)

🔵 Northern Kentucky University

🔵 Ohio University (includes applicants through Spring 2021)

🔵Rutgers Newark (New Jersey)

🔵 Saint Vincent College (Pennsylvania)

🔵 St. Mary’s University (Texas)

🔵 St. Thomas Aquinas College (New York)

🔵 St. Thomas University (Florida)

🔵Savannah College of Arts and Design (Georgia)

🔵 Schreiner University (Texas) for applicants with high school GPAs of 3.25 or above

🔵 Southern Arkansas University for applicants with high school GPAs of 2.3 or above

🔵 Southwest Baptist University (Missouri)

🔵Texas Tech University

🔵Thiel College (Pennsylvania)

🔵 University of Akron (Ohio)

🔵 University of Alaska Fairbanks

🔵 University of Mobile (Alabama) for applicants with high school GPAs of 2.75 or above

🔵 University of Mount Union (Ohio)

🔵 University of Nevada – Las Vegas

🔵 University of Nevada – Reno

🔵 University of North Dakota – Grand Forks

🔵 University of Pittsburgh Regional Campuses (Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Titusville) University System of Georgia (all public campuses except Georgia Tech and UGa)

🔵 University of Virginia – Wise

🔵 Washington State University Vancouver

🔵 Wayne State University (Michigan)

🔵 West Virginia State University

🔵 Westminster College (Pennsylvania)

🔵 Winthrop University (South Carolina)

🔵Youngstown State University (Ohio) through Spring 2021

Be advised that it’s always better to check the latest information on the school’s websites.

Does the test-optional mean that it will be easier to get accepted into competitive colleges?😧

The short answer is - no, again. Bummer, I know. Many students rejoice, albeit prematurely, hearing that they have a choice to decide whether to take the test or not. This will make them think that because of COVID - 19 they are excused can easily get into a college with the trouble of testing. However, you need to remember that colleges can see where you live. If they find out that schools offer tests near you in the fall and you chose NOT to take the test anyway, it will not make your application better. For example, Cornell is very clear that this is just for one time. They also explain - very clearly - that they would like to see your standardized test scores in your application unless you are undergoing serious hardship.

Did Colleges Change anything else?🤔

Despite the fact of giving more flexibility in testing, many schools also changed/extended the deadlines for some of the important events. For instance, as we know May 1st is the national decision day. This means that on May 1st all students in the United States are making decisions about what college to choose. Some schools extended the deadlines to June 1st. There are also some schools that did not extend their deadline officially but they allowed the admitted students to email them if they were unable to make the decisions until May 1st. After that, these colleges would extend the deadline for those students. We do not know yet If colleges are going to change their admissions or calendar for the next admission cycle. It all depends on how the situation will be for the next year. For this reason, you should plan to proceed as normal.

I am a rising junior, should I be concerned?

I bet you can spot a pattern here, but the short answer is - NO! If you are a rising junior, you should plan on taking the test as normal. Continue crafting your list, plan your internships and study projects. However, it’s wise to have a PLAN B or perhaps two plan B’s in case something like this happens again. That way you can feel more prepared for any calamity and nothing will affect your college admissions in a negative way.

What you need to do now? 🤓

Many of my students ask me what they can do while sitting at home, having more time than usually. JUST KEEP GOING. 🏃🏼‍♀️ DO NOT use this time as a vacation because it will just hurt you. If you are not satisfied with your grades,😕 this is the best time for you to try even harder and boost your grades up. Do what you were doing before perhaps even with greater rigor. If you have more time, you may also do more things: try new hobbies, take online classes, explore different passions, etc. Show schools that you used this unexpected time very wisely‼️ You may be disappointed, but remember that this is temporary. 😌

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Finally, here are some TIPS you may find helpful while in quarantine. 1️⃣ If you are a rising senior, do not give up on your dream school. Give it a shot. 2️⃣ Try to maintain a good academic GPA, in case you won’t be able to take standardized tests ➡️then, GPA along with the recommendation letters 📃 and extracurricular activities🗂 will be the best sources for colleges to learn more about you. 3️⃣ Do not waste your time NOW, show colleges in your application that you did a lot of interesting things at home, do not let them think that all you did was playing computer games ❗️🖥🕹. 4️⃣ Do not use this time as a vacation❗️If you are trying to take AP or any of the standardized test. STUDY for it. Think about how many times you wished you had more time to do things that you like or even to prepare for your tests better.

If you would like to watch the video version of this article, you can find the link below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️




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