Features Issue 6 Magazine

College Applications and Admissions in the Midst of COVID-19

By Andrew Francois

Graphic By Elizabeth Flores

When the nation first shut down due to COVID-19 nearly one year ago, one question loomed large for the majority of high school seniors around the country: “What about my college admissions?” Most states entered lockdowns by March 2020, when colleges began releasing their admission decisions. Fortunately for the high school graduates of 2020, applications were already submitted, and most students had a passable idea of which school they hoped to attend. For most of last year’s departing seniors, COVID-19 didn’t affect their college futures too drastically.

The high school class of 2021 wasn’t so lucky. The majority have been stuck at home for the past 11 months; unable to visit college campuses, unable to take most standardized tests and unable to meet with their counselors in-person. Their college admissions process has been unrecognizably different compared to what it has been in years prior. 

“At the time of the initial shutdown I was just starting to research different schools, and wasn’t too serious about any school, so I didn’t get the chance to visit any campuses,” said Miramonte senior Matt Lyons. Others like Las Lomas senior Bryce Yuen thought ahead. Yuen said, “Luckily, I started touring colleges my freshman year, so I at least had an idea of general size, location, private vs. public and overall vibe of several universities nearby.” 

Lyons also commented on the effects of the pandemic on the schools he applied to. “I was considering not applying to some of the harder schools like the Ivy Leagues if I wasn’t able to get an SAT score, but I was able to take one in Nevada and do well enough to send it out.”  Yuen, on the other hand, said his choices were relatively unaffected. “No difference [due to the pandemic]. I mainly looked for schools that were well-regarded for my major (chemical engineering/chemistry) and that also have good music programs that I could potentially minor or double major in.”

As for the admissions undertaking as a whole, Yuen said, “I think the entire process was just different and required initiative… I can’t really speculate on what the whole process would have been like without COVID, but I do think the dropping of standardized testing for admissions will allow for a more equitable and well-rounded system of measuring student’s potential and success.”

Even though COVID-19 has undoubtedly made the collegiate transition different from years prior, the seniors are making the best of their resources. Seniors Yuen and Lyons both expressed wisdom for the high school seniors in the future. “It looks like next year the colleges will be test optional, which means reach schools will receive a lot more applicants. I think it’s a good idea to apply to as many schools as possible because nothing is guaranteed,” Lyons said. Yuen gave more universal and less year-specific advice. “Don’t procrastinate. Be genuine and don’t let stress get to your head… and do not miss any deadlines going into fall.”