What to Know About Applying to College During COVID-19
Applying to college can always feel a bit overwhelming for rising seniors, but this year students may be particularly susceptible to stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much uncertainty around campus life for the fall, prospective applicants have a unique set of questions and concerns on their radar.
While this application cycle will certainly be unique, students can make the most of it by doing their research and getting a jump start on the admissions process. Keep reading to learn what high school seniors need to keep in mind during this year’s college application season.
Stay Updated on Recent Changes
The more applicants know about recent policy changes and news updates, the more empowered these students will feel. Recent months have brought many noteworthy college news stories, including an increased number of schools shifting to test-optional admissions and changes to the Common App. Rising seniors should keep look out for news updates from every college on their list of best-fit schools to ensure they have the most accurate information available when it comes to applying to college. Follow each institution’s social media accounts as well to gain access to as much news as possible.
For many high school students, their college admissions process may not go exactly as they had originally envisioned. From cancelled campus tours to limited extracurricular activities, rising seniors will need to maintain a flexible outlook to make the most of this year. Instead of feeling discouraged by these recent changes, view them as an opportunity to think outside of the box. If touring colleges in-person is no longer feasible, utilize online touring options, virtual Q&A sessions, and remote college fairs to learn more about each choice on your list. Similarly, students may wish to consider launching their own independent projects or getting involved with virtual activities to stay engaged outside of their coursework.
Expand Your Horizons
Revisit your list of best-fit colleges to ensure your choices align with your current academic needs and preferences. Some students may notice that their priorities have shifted slightly in light of the pandemic. For example, applicants who may have originally only considered schools across the country may now wish to incorporate some options that are closer to home. Other students may be interested in learning more about gap years.
Don’t Overlook Financial Aid
Between filling out the Common App and monitoring college admissions updates, financial aid applications may fall off of some students’ radar. However, it’s important to stay on top of the financial aid process to avoid any last-minute stress. Students who wish to apply for financial aid should note that the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens on October 1st and that students must submit this application in order to be eligible for work study, student loans, and Pell grants.
Come Back to What Counts
Coping with uncertainty can be challenging, but at the end of the day students should put recent changes in perspective. While some components of the application process may feel different than anticipated, the opportunities that await college applicants remain largely unchanged. Whether students are on-campus or learning remotely, they will have the opportunity to pursue higher-level studies in the fields they are most passionate about, learn from distinguished professors, and form lasting bonds with peers. Instead of dwelling on what might be different, focus on the positive news that remains unchanged.
Senior year is an exciting time and it’s important for students to make the most of it by staying on top of the college admissions process. If you are preparing to apply to schools this season and looking for one-on-one guidance, our team of admissions experts can offer personalized support.