COVID seniors share thoughts on college admissions

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Essays, teacher recommendations, test scores, college admissions are daunting even without a pandemic. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has put more of a strain on seniors trying to navigate applications.
There is a lack of opportunities for seniors to build up their high school resumes. Many activities have been canceled, such as service-learning, clubs and sports. College Board has postponed testing multiple times. Some students were never able to take the SAT before Early Admissions deadlines. Many are having to apply without them. However, many colleges have taken these setbacks into account.
“I think colleges have adapted to the lack of opportunities to take standardized tests and service-learning students have had this year,” senior Seema Cherukuri said. “On all my applications there has been a section to explain how COVID-19 has impacted our lives.”
Colleges have taken these setbacks into account. Almost all colleges have gone test-optional for the admissions cycle.
“I think colleges are doing their best to make it less stressful for this year’s applicants,” senior Matthew Oh said. “Most have gotten rid of test requirements.”
While colleges are addressing these issues, many students are still having a tough time navigating the admissions process. This is the first time students at Northwest will have to process college admissions on their own. Without in-face counseling and advisors readily available, it is harder for students to understand everything.
“It has been more challenging to navigate through the college admissions process,” Cherukuri said. “Especially when I have questions and do not have the luxury of stopping by the counselors office at lunch or before school as we could have for In-Person learning.”
It is a struggle when students have a quick question that is hard to explain in an email to a counselor. Also, it may be harder to obtain recommendation letters from teachers that students may have never seen face to face.
“I find it difficult sometimes to articulate my concerns or questions through email compared to the repartee of ideas within the face-to-face direction,” Cherukuri said.
While it may be overwhelming, some students say that the pandemic has given them more time to complete applications than they would have had otherwise.
“[It is] easier to find time to do applications,” senior Kyle Eiben said. “But it is harder to talk to people directly about stuff, especially letters of recommendation.”
Most students are trying to make the best of the pandemic and using this free time to enhance their applications.
“COVID-19 made [applications] easier for me since there is no in-person school,” Oh said. “I can take more time at home to work on whatever I need for the applications.”
Even with more time allotted to seniors, the process is still overwhelming to many, especially when students are not even sure what college will look like during their freshman year. Covid-19 has put many college decisions in perspective.
“I think the admissions process has adapted well. However, actual college life seems to be a little more scuffed. I have heard a lot of colleges open in-person instruction, only to close after two weeks because of poor COVID-19 containment. That seems unfortunate,” Oh said. “It might be a case of needing to give college students the true college experience to justify the exorbitant tuition. In the current situation, I believe allowing parties and other large gatherings are just not it, especially if colleges want to avoid completely shutting down in-person facilities.”
It is hard to predict if students will even be allowed back next year. Many colleges have had to send their students back home after attempting in-person learning, due to outbreaks.
“If the situation with COVID-19 seems to be getting worse, I might be interested in taking a gap year. I will likely still go,” Oh said. “I am guessing it will initially be online, I can’t say, since I do not know how the vaccine is progressing. I will just handle situations as they arise.”
For some, the pandemic has allowed more time for self-introspection, making some seniors reconsider or reinforce their intended major.
“I have not completely reconsidered a college choice, but Covid-19 has reinforced my aspirations to enter the STEM realm to help individuals who face challenges,” Cherukuri said.
Whatever the world looks like the next school year, it is safe to say we are very proud of our Northwest seniors.
“Even though our Senior year has been a bit unpredictable, to say the least,” Cherukuri said, “I think all of my classmates and I are mostly just excited to start a new chapter of our lives and see what 2021 will bring.”