The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted admissions processes at all colleges. High schools and colleges are closed and the ad hoc methods used to provide essential admissions-related services are, for the most part, inadequate. If you’ve been admitted to the Class of 2024 or intend to apply to the Class of 2025, you need to stay current on the changes brought about by the pandemic.
Changes Affecting Seniors
If you’re a senior, there are resources that will help you stay current, including the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), a leading professional association in the admissions field. NACAC recently announced the availability to the public of two tools that enable seniors to track the status of services, revised dates, and changes in policy for colleges and high schools around the country, as described below:
- The NACAC College Admission Status Update maintains records of changes to college deadlines, events, and policies. This is an online database updated by more than 900 colleges, with more contributing to it every day.
- The NACAC Secondary Schools College Admission Services Update provides current information about high schools. It’s difficult for guidance counselors to meet the needs of seniors for final grades, transcripts, advice, and other admissions materials. This crowd-sourced tool enables guidance counselors and administrators to report on admissions-related services at their schools.
Changes Affecting Juniors — SAT and ACT Exams
Foremost among challenges now facing juniors is the need to adapt to the changes to the standardized tests that are essential to admission at the majority of colleges. On April 16, the College Board announced that it had canceled the June 6th testing date for the SAT. The Board also announced that they will be offering the SAT in August, pandemic or no pandemic, and will add an additional test date in September.
Considering the cancellation of the spring tests, one added test date is not likely to be sufficient to meet demand. If you want a seat at a test, be sure to be among the first to register. They’re assigned on a first-come-first-served basis. While the SAT test schedule for the fall won’t be released until May, there is likely to be an SAT offered every month starting in August for the rest of the year.
The ACT organization hasn’t announced that their July test will be cancelled, but it’s likely. Even if you don’t want to take the July ACT, you should register for it anyway because when new seats open up in August or in the fall, you’ll receive preferential treatment. You should promptly book a seat for any ACT test that has availability.
If the SAT and ACT tests remain a test center option only, it’s highly likely that there will not be enough seats for all of the students seeking one. Due to the spring cancellations and even with an added test date, it’s expected that the shortage of seats will be in the hundreds of thousand.
One result of the foreseeable shortage of seats has been the announcement by the SAT and ACT organizations that they’re developing digital versions of the tests for students to take at home in case that becomes necessary. This solution is already controversial. In an article in the New York Times on April 15, Anemona Hartocollis and Dana Goldstein reported that, “Even the possibility brought stark warnings from critics and testing experts, who said at-home tests could exacerbate inequality, raise privacy issues and make it easier to cheat.”
The College Board has announced it will be offering AP exams online in 2020, so it’s already building an online testing delivery capability that could also be used for the SAT, although the SAT will be harder to reproduce online due to its length, complexity, security requirements, and volume.
As a result of the spring test cancellations, juniors are in a quandary. It’s normally recommended that students take the SAT or ACT at least twice and, in some cases, three times before applying to colleges. Under current conditions, you should assume that you’ll only be able to take the test once. You should prepare accordingly.
Many colleges, including a high percentage of top-tier institutions, were test-optional before the pandemic. For them, there’s no change. For the others, the Coronavirus has encouraged many to join the test-optional movement. However, this doesn’t really present an opportunity if you wish to avoid the tests. The SAT and ACT aren’t forced on applicants by colleges. They’re tools that applicants can use to differentiate themselves in order to get accepted by competitive colleges. The tests will continue to be essential for that purpose.
There are ways for students and families to cope with the rapid flow of admissions-related changes during the pandemic. Reliance on an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) such as Louis Educational Consulting is foremost among them. We’re professionals who track changes in the admissions field on an ongoing basis, and never more diligently than under the current unprecedented conditions.