The international coronavirus pandemic has left no stone unturned and no process unchanged, including the college admissions process. Due to different social distancing measures for the foreseeable future, most of the experts suggest these efforts can continue for several months or even years into the future. As a recent college graduate from St. John’s New York campus, Eric Buschbacher explains his perspective on how COVID-19 has morphed the college admissions process.
For students with their sights set on a traditional, classroom-based college education, the uncertainty looms high. While the traditional college admissions process for Eric Buschbacher included extracurricular activities, standardized testing, and actual college visits; this process has changed. So far 19 states have shuttered in-person classes through the end of the school year. And several more school districts across the U.S. are expected to follow suit. Eric Buschbacher explains, “Senior year is supposed to be special. It’s the time every high school student has worked to get to — it’s a point of independence and freedom.”
In addition to thwarting a rite of passage, school closures have forced millions of students to online learning for the first time. Eric Buschbacher continues “these closures have upended the only learning and college prep structure most students have ever known.” This can be especially concerning for high school juniors who may be preparing for college admissions.
Eric Bushbacher adds “The abrupt change to online learning requires a different set of skills from students and teachers alike. Unfortunately, the success of the student depends on whether their style of learning is conducive to self-directed learning”.
Eric Buschbacher points out that COVID-19 has also impacted standardized testing. With many ACT and SAT testing dates being canceled, an estimated one million high school juniors are missing their first stab at the SAT. Simultaneously, many others are simply in the dark when it comes to ACT testing. Eric Buschbacher paints the picture by explaining, “When I was a junior, taking the SAT as soon as possible was critical. Fortunately, some colleges are making concessions by waiving standardized test scores.” While waiving test scores may be an option for some schools, Eric Buschbacher touts that “some schools are also testing out test-optional policies.”
Eric Buschbacher describes the third problem, “One of the coolest parts of college admissions is the campus visit. Getting to walk around the campus to experience what your life will be like was definitely a highlight for me.” And because of social distancing, college juniors and seniors are no longer able to physically visit the campus, which creates a dilemma. Eric Buschbacher expounds, “I always heard stories from friends and family members that were like ‘You will know which campus is right because it will feel like home.’ But how will I be able to get the home feeling if I am stuck at home — unable to physically visit the campus?” Eric Buschbacher adds, “A mission statement will only tell you so much.”
As the world navigates its way through the coronavirus pandemic, one thing that will remain constant is change. Eric Bushbacher reveals the college admissions process is going to “look and feel a lot different once everything settles. But some changes may even be permanent”.