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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Your senior year of high school, for many students, is your most stressful. Your time as a teenager is coming to an end, you’re going to be an adult soon and this comes with all kinds of responsibilities, some good some bad, some exciting. One of these is figuring out where you’re going to go next after graduation.

For those who are planning on going to a college or university, it’s a harrowing process. Sadly you can’t just go to one, you have to get in. The dreaded college application is upon you. And in the year 2021 it’s college applications but with the added COVID-19 stipulations as well. 

But don’t freak out too much, it is a stressful process for sure but not something you can’t get through with a college waiting for you on the other side. 

COVID-19 has changed some aspects of the process, mostly concerning test scores, but there are some other things you should keep an eye out for as well that could help your journey, or put an unexpected road bump in it.

Read more below for a guided breakdown of college admissions during COVID-19.

  • Soaring numbers of college applicants
  • Test-optional and test-blind institutions
  • Waived application fees
  • Changes to FAFSA and financial aid deadlines
  • AP exams and will they be accepted
There are a lot more college applicants now for colleges to choose from. 

Soaring numbers of college applications

Here is a general fact you should know—the number of applications for top colleges in the United States is increasing. Harvard had a 57% increase last year, Dartmouth 29%, and NYU 20% with over 100,000 applicants.

Why is this? Well, it could be for a couple of reasons. More time spent at home gives you more time to apply, so of course, people are going to throw their hat in the ring of a school they might not have applied to otherwise. 

Deadlines for applications are also now a little more flexible with dates for some colleges, which gives people more time to apply. 

But overall, the increase in applications to these more prestigious schools isn’t going to increase your chances of going there. Their acceptance rates are going down. Meanwhile in smaller lesser-known schools like New York State’s SUNY public university system, applications were down 20 percent last year.

When you’re thinking about where to apply you might want to think about acceptance rates in this COVID-19 environment. Sure you can apply to Columbia or Harvard with everyone else, but don’t bet your hopes on a better chance of getting in. 

Good news, you might not have to worry about the SAT after all. 

Test-optional and test-blind institutions

Now, here’s the other big reason why the big fancy schools are probably getting more applications. Because of COVID-19, many schools are waiving their SAT or ACT requirements for your application.

First here’s the difference between test-optional and test-blind schools. Test-optional schools will take your SAT or ACT scores if you want to give them, but they’re not required. Test-blind schools won’t take any of these test scores at all.

Each has their benefits, usually, the more prestigious institutions are test-optional and submitting them will make you more competitive but the general consensus is that nowadays, test scores are not nearly as important as they used to be. If they were ever really important at all.

All of the Ivy League schools, except for Columbia, have chosen to remain test-optional after changing their policies due to COVID-19. The UC schools in California have elected for their applications to be test-blind. 

It’s a good incentive to apply, where beforehand your test score might have put you out of competition for these schools now you have a better chance. It’s something to consider when looking at schools. 

Should you be taking the SAT or ACT?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? And there’s no definitive answer. It all depends on what options are available to you and what schools you want to apply to.

Sadly we are not at the point yet in the American college system where these standardized test scores have absolutely no meaning at all. For a lot of schools, they’re still using these tests as a prominent part of their admission process. 

It’s not any fault of yours, it’s just how the system is working for now. With so many applicants a SAT or ACT score is a “standardized” and “fair” measure to compare students with. 

So if the instituton you have your heart set on still requires them, or is test-optional, it might boost your chances to send in your scores. 

But the good news is that more and more schools are going test-blind, and prestigious schools nonetheless. In the future, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that we all may soon be rid of these test scores altogether. 

For some institutions, you can get a waived application fee. 

Waived application fees

This COVID-19 change isn’t as widespread as the test-blind implementation. The truth is that schools make a lot of money on application fees to their colleges. And the fancier of a school you’re applying to, the more money it’s going to cost. Columbia’s fee is eighty-five dollars where SUNY applications are fifty dollars. 

But because of COVID-19 many of us are facing unprecedented challenges and losses that no one could have predicted over a year ago. So some schools have waived their application fees like the University of Wisconsin or Texas A&M University.

However, if the school you're applying to doesn’t offer an application fee waiver upfront you can ask for one if you qualify.

Through the Common App, the website pretty much everyone uses to apply to colleges around the US, you can apply for a fee waiver for your schools if you’ve been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

It’s not a cut and dry process, you might be exchanging a few emails with people. But if you really need that fee waiver, it’s definitely worth a shot. 

What to know and what to keep in mind about your financial aid. 

Changes to FAFSA and financial aid

Because of COVID-19, most colleges went online for the 2020-2021 school year to reduce the spread of the disease on campus. As a result, many of the college students enrolled were issued a partial refund on their tuition price.

Now, this probably won’t happen again since most colleges are planning to go back in person in some capacity this fall. 

However, there have been changes to other parts of financial aid and scholarships for many colleges. 

One, if you’re in college and you suddenly have to take a leave of absence because of COVID-19 or if a family member of yours has been impacted by the disease that forces you to withdraw, you might be eligible to have your direct subsidized loans or one of your TEACH or Pell grants excluded from payment. 

This isn’t a guarantee but for some specific situations, it can be a great help to have your student loans put on pause at the moment while you worry about other things. 

Scholarship deadlines

Another sad change in college admissions caused by COVID-19 is the implementation of “COVID-19” scholarships, made for those students who were negatively impacted by COVID-19 whether it happened to themselves or someone in their family.

Not all schools offer this, but some, like Carolina University, offer scholarships that potentially cover up to fifty percent of the first-year tuition at the institution. 

Other scholarships center around COVID-19 in an essay format for a less amount of money. How has COVID-19 affected you personally, how has it affected your state, the country, the world, and its socio-economic systems?

If you’re a strong writer the COVID 19 Perspective Scholarship is a good scholarship to write for centering around these themes. You have a chance of winning up to $1500 with a submitted essay. 

AP exams and will they be accepted?

If you’re applying to college chances are you’ve already taken at least one AP test. These Advanced Placement courses, planned and given by the college board in a wide variety of subjects ranging from Music Theory to Chinese Language and Culture, are often taken  by colleges for course credit if you get a high enough score.

The range goes from 0-5, and on average most students get a 3 on the test. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools would only take a 4 or 5 test score for a credit exchange in the class. Some public schools would take a 3.

Most schools are holding fast on this rule, and aren’t bending on the qualification scores. However, not every school has done this and the trend might be changing in the future.

The California Lutheran University gave all incoming students who took an AP class in high school full credit for the course regardless of what score they got on the test. Nicknamed the “Compassionate AP Credit Policy” the goal was to alleviate the stress students felt while test-taking during the pandemic.

AP tests were fully online in 2021, a far cry from taking it in the usual classroom or gymnasium packed with seniors for two three hours with only one small fifteen-minute break.

Schools that offer this program are few and far between, but it doesn’t hurt to do your research if your AP test scores weren’t too hot. 

All in all, there have been some significant changes to how colleges operate because of COVID-19. Some of the changes won’t be permanent, but the hope is that some of them will be. 

It’s no doubt opened up many eyes as to how test-taking and financial aid are such a strenuous part of the application process for students, who so very often can’t go to schools they’d thrive at because of silly obstacles.

But, no matter where you choose to go in the end it’s not the college that makes you a good student, it’s your integrity, your drive, and your work ethic that will make you successful. You don’t need a fancy college to achieve happiness, you need to try to make the best life for yourself where you are.