COVID-19 and the School Admission Traditions – Let’s Find the Ways Out

Every spring is the hot time for high school graduates. It is when they need to choose the college and apply to it. In March, students collect information, visit campuses, and try to learn as much as possible about all college variants. By May 1, they have to send their college applications. It would be the same in spring 2020 under ordinary conditions. But it won’t happen this year.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has already ruined the traditional admission processes. College campuses are closed. Many standard programs are canceled.

Right now, students are going into the territory of uncertainty. The main problem is that they can’t find reliable information about the new admission rules.

To their credit, colleges do their best to adapt to the rapid changes. They switched as many courses online as possible, and let the students learn and work remotely. Unfortunately, college admission is in the most vulnerable zone. Things develop from scratch in real-time, and admission procedures become more complicated than ever.

The problem is overwhelming for parents. As a rule, students try to visit personally all colleges they consider. First, it is the most efficient way to get familiar with the campus community. Next, such visits are more informative than any other source.

After the anti-pandemic rules came into force, many students could not fulfill their plans — even those who managed to get into campuses before quarantine did not visit them all. Besides, many students get invitations from several colleges and must choose one to accept. Without full information, it would be problematic.

The Coronavirus Effect: Will the College Admission Survive?

Some institutions have already admitted applicants – it concerns those practicing early admissions first of all. Many other colleges still consider their candidates. But now the standard patterns are broken. It forces both the colleges and students’ parents to search for some other solutions. The crucial thing is to have a plan on what to do next.

If families can’t visit campuses personally, the best way is to refer to online resources. No matter when the outbreak ends, it will be the year of online education for many colleges. If they react to the changing reality on time, they get the advantage.

Most colleges and universities have already resolved the urgent educational problems with distant learning. Fortunately, there are means and tested practices. Now, colleges must do the same for the admission procedures.

Dedicated platforms and online groups are providing all information about the schools. By scheduling an online meeting, students and their parents can talk to tutors, coaches, and other students. There are virtual tours on campuses as well. The crisis will end, and students will get back there, so the applicants will get familiar with the conditions. It might not be 100% equal to the personal visit, but it provides a decent level of information. Now, colleges try to offer all kinds of virtual content to their applicants.

Coronavirus damaged the high school as well. It is already apparent that many school seniors won’t be able to pass standardized tests on time. Higher education institutions respond to this problem by extending admission deadlines. Not every college, but many of them have already set the new deadline for June 1. It gives high school students more time to get prepared.

Online college application platforms take part in the process too. Let’s take the Common App that is the default application tool for many colleges. It has an FAQ page for students where they can learn everything about the new admission conditions.

Colleges use all digital channels they possess to connect to their applicants and support them. It is possible to collect all meaningful data about each college online. Schools recommend to refer to their official websites, check their application portals, and – by all means – check emails. Emails are the primary means to contact students and their parents, though many applicants do not like this channel. Still, official responses and all the essential data from colleges come by email.

All these steps are also voting in favor of this or that college. When they show how they care about their future students – they establish themselves as the right choice.

There is the factor of direct communication too. When the candidates cross the significant distances to visit campuses and meet the faculty – colleges take that as a sign of interest. They consider these candidates more motivated and dedicated. However, with canceled personal visits, other means of expressing interest come into prominence. When applicants want to show their attention, they should contact colleges and respond to their emails. 

Of course, virtual tours on campuses can’t replace live experience. However, it is a trustworthy source of information. Families should not ignore it. Besides, colleges will gladly assist in the process and answer all questions. There are even options to talk online to other faculty members or students.

One more excellent source is social media and dedicated forums. They provide the most valuable data from people with the necessary experience and first-hand reports. In fact, with all the pandemic complications, colleges can already present compelling alternatives to their candidates.

On the other hand, many other questions are still vague. Even if colleges could find solutions for admission procedures, there are issues scholarships, financial aid, and many other problems. Right now, college officials can’t say anything for sure, as they don’t have the information themselves. They discuss the matters, and, hopefully, there will be some updates soon. 

Admission Problems of High Schools

COVID-19 hurts all institutions. High schools got their damage too. The most problematic is the situation with the SAT and ACT testing. Closing of the testing centers and postponing the regular dates mean that students won’t get these required documents – on-time or at all. 

That is just one example of burning problems. But the standard school education has to come online as well. Fortunately, there are methods and online courses, as distant learning becomes rather popular. Still, it is a severe ordeal for those families who never had such experiences.

Learning virtually has a different format, so it takes time to adjust to it. However, with the right approach, it is useful – it encourages students to work independently. It adds more tasks to the parents, though, as they will need to support their children more. Without the class and the teacher, parents have to help with the homework, explain problematic issues, and organize the learning processes.

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It will be a good idea to find a community of distant learning. Such communities share working tips on how to plan classes and motivate children. Also, parents can get useful information about different online courses and tutors.

There is still an extracurricular activity issue. Traditionally, it is essential for college admissions, but COVID-19 ruined most of the possibilities. Speaking about sports – many young athletes watch their facilities closing for quarantine. Community duties get hurt by the “stay at home” policy. There is no one general approach to how colleges will deal with these problems, but they do their best to find solutions.

In any case, the new reality we live in can help us all to find new approaches to education. Most likely, it will have to change and adapt to the new conditions. But we’ll get the system more flexible, innovative, and, perhaps, even more efficient.