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Coronavirus and College Admissions Changes Thumbnail

Coronavirus and College Admissions Changes

Since I work with a lot of GenX professionals and my kids are right at the college age, I figured I would cover the topic on the minds of many of my fellow GenXers – what impact is the Coronavirus having on college admissions.


As some background, I have two sons. One just started his freshman year in college and the other is a high school junior. I get it as we are in the same boat.  My older one is pumped that he was able to get a good dorm assignment for his sophomore year and my hope is he will get to spend the entire year on campus. My junior was a bit disappointed as a big college visit to his dream school was just cancelled, but he gets it.  Fortunately, the school is going to do as much as they can with a virtual visit.


Let’s focus on the junior as college is coming up faster than I’d like to admit.  


First off, as you probably know, SAT and ACT tests for the spring have been postponed.  The earliest dates high schoolers can take these tests at June 6 for the SAT and June 13 for the ACT.  Things are changing quickly so these dates could be changed too.


AP tests are still going to happen, but the testing will be at home.  Apparently, the College Board that administers the AP tests are changing the format too. The tests will now be 45 minutes instead of 3 hours and the questions will be open-response instead of multiple choice. I’m going to have to ask my junior what exactly open-response is.  Now, the tough part is colleges will most likely decide on a college-by-college basis what to do with the AP results.


Here is where it gets really interesting.  A few colleges have previously said they didn’t need ACT and SAT scores.  Now more colleges are waiving these tests for incoming applicants.  Check with individual colleges because some are doing it for the 20-21 school year while others are waiving it for the next several years worth of applicants.  


I’ve also seen schools waiving admissions fees in total.  This isn’t a surprise. You know how I’ve talked before about how most colleges are not hitting their recruitment numbers. The virus isn’t making it easier for them to hit targets so they are doing everything they can to help make life easier for applicants.


As I mentioned earlier, schools are shifting to virtual visits.  These range from talking to professors to admissions specialists to current students.  Now, my junior wants to be a vet and I’m not sure if they’ll do visits of the farm at his school of choice. Yes, the school he is looking closest at has its own farm with lots of animals. Closest I had to animals when I was in school was a buddy named Beast.


If you have a high school senior and they haven’t made a final decision yet, don’t worry too much.   Many schools have pushed back their decision date from May 1st to June 1st.  Again, this is a school-by-school decision so you should check with the school to find out the final decision date.  Of course, I’m sure you’re hearing from those schools plenty still.


One interesting trend is a high percentage of high schoolers are shifting their thoughts on college as a result of the virus. More kids than before are considering a school closer to home and less expensive.  I will say my older one goes to a school 45 minutes away. It was a lot easier to pick him up once they sent everyone packing than some friends with kids hours and hours away.


Now, what does this mean for changes in financial aid?  Unfortunately, I just don’t know.  It is too early to say what all will happen here. If your family has lost income you may be eligible for more financial aid. At the same time, there may be less funding at a federal and institutional level which then restricts aid.  Again, too early to know and too early to panic.   At a minimum, if your financial situation has changed it is probably worth revisiting your FAFSA application and ramp up scholarship applications.


I did see someone mention this is a great time for students to work on their “self-enrichment” for both admission and scholarship applications.  Does playing video games with friends until late at night count as self-enrichment? If so, we are good to go!


Hopefully this is helpful to my fellow GenXers as we all have enough on our plates right now.   Feel free to share.  Heck, you can even hit the like button!  Most importantly, stay safe and healthy.  We’re all in this together and I’m starting to feel like we are slowly taking steps up this mountain.