COVID and the College Application Process

Posted on: Tue, 07/21/2020 - 15:00

Guest blog by Phil Arnold, Career and Technology Center

There are deeply impactful events in our world. So many crucial things require and deserve our attention. It can strain the focus we might otherwise apply to less pressing goals like the college application process.

Students applying to college this fall will want to consider how to prepare their best application amid the COVID disruptions. Some universities have already decided that SAT scores will be optional this year. For others, SAT scores remain mandatory and may be subject to change. In either case, admission is not decided on academic credentials alone. Evaluations are comprehensive.

A student’s activities and achievements serve to highlight individuality, strengths and talents, work ethic, grit and determination, flexibility and perseverance, and service to others. All of these things are considered when evaluating a college application.

While COVID interruptions are temporary, the timing and impact is significant. Through no fault of students, many opportunities to distinguish themselves have been compromised. Competitive academic achievements, leadership responsibilities, extra-curricular activities, community service events, sports accomplishments, internships, summer programs, etc. had to be cancelled in order to protect public health. This is true nationwide. Students still need to submit their most compelling story to be competitive.

Take advantage of the time right now to get a jump start on at least these initial considerations:

  1. Contact each college and verify their application requirements for this year.
  2. Start college essays. Collect thoughts now, organize ideas, and build a few outlines before starting to write. An adult can review the outlines and draft versions of student essays. It’s helpful to rewrite and strengthen essays over and over again. The Common App is using the same essay prompts as last year. It’s more important than ever that student essays be thoughtful, candid, well written, and tell the best story as only the student can.
  3. Gather school information remotely. On-campus tours have been cancelled for months, but students can sign up for email notifications and newsletters from schools of interest.
  4. Make a one-page professional resume. Organize education, work experience, technical and soft skills, achievements, honors, and community service.
  5. Ask for letters of recommendation early. Offer to provide important details about achievements, experiences, qualities, and contributions to make this task easier and more personal.

Start now. Get ahead. This is just the beginning.