College Applications In A Pandemic

To Seniors, This Year’s ED Deadline Is More Spooky Than Halloween.

Erika Kurre, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting various aspects of the college application process for the class of 2021 at Harriton and globally. From standardized test cancellations to virtual college campus tours, students around the United States must adapt to an unconventional senior year.

March, one of the most typical times to take an SAT/ACT, was just the first of months of cancelled tests. In September, several testing centers opened, but inconvenience prevailed. Some students travelled to far lengths to sit for the SAT such as senior Evan Zales, who drove to West Virginia. He expressed he was glad he got a seat, but felt as though “there was a lot of pressure to do well on this SAT, because [he] had been studying for months and drove over five hours.”

Zales also said his September testing experience was very different from normal SATs because it was “stressful being around so many people,” and all students now wear masks for the three hour exam. Although most colleges have switched to a test optional policy, it remains unclear how colleges will consider these scores.

With almost all events now virtual, there are no more in-person college tours. Students are now struggling to pick colleges merely based on statistics, pictures, and basic information sessions. However, students applying to schools nearby have been taking advantage of the opportunity to drive and visit these schools.

“I was lucky enough to be able to tour some of the schools that I’m applying to,” senior Anna Fenkel said. “I went to visit a few schools, but all I did was walk around an empty campus.” She pointed out how while she was not able to receive the full college visit experience, “it was better than nothing because I was able to see the college towns.” Anna added, “getting a feel for the campus is really important and it helped me narrow down my college search.”

Student Guillaume Placidet, offered a different perspective. He is a senior looking at colleges in other countries who has benefited from these virtual visits. Placidet stated that it has made his college application process easier as he is “able to attend meetings that take place across the Atlantic- not something [he] would’ve been able to do under normal circumstances.”

Currently, seniors are attending virtual college events, writing Common App and supplemental essays, and submitting early applications: the Early Decision deadline is November 1st, the day after Halloween.

Seniors are not only applying to college but also keeping up their grades in rigorous classes, participating in extracurriculars, and working jobs after school.

Many Harriton seniors are stressed. Jade Zhu said, “it feels harder to focus and find motivation when everyday feels like a repeat of the last.” However, others like Aaron Leyland mentioned that “[the college application process] is really not as hard as [he] thought it was.” He attributes this to the Common Application, that “organizes everything pretty nicely… and there really is no reason to overly stress about it.”

Although college applications amidst a global pandemic is by no means an easy feat, the Harriton seniors will succeed throughout these next few months, and look back in June feeling proud of themselves.