As if the college search process doesn’t produce enough anxiety on its own, add in the impact of the pandemic on standardized testing and college visits, and you have some pretty stressed out students and families. To allay concerns, KO’s College Advising office offered a Zoom meeting “College Admission Process During the COVID-19 Pandemic” with Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid from Wesleyan University Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez and Senior Assistant Director for Undergraduate Admissions from Northeastern University Maddie Thomas who reassured the audience that the colleges and universities are acting with flexibility and understanding during the college process.
Director of College Advising Jami Silver began the meeting updating the parents to the status of college planning with the junior class since Spring Break: all students have met with their college advisors; most students now have a draft of their college essay, and have received feedback; students have started the Common App account and have worked on the activity list section. For the remainder of the year, the students will continue to work on their college essay, research their college list with the goal of having 10-15 colleges by the end of the academic year, complete their activities list, request teacher recommendations, and adjust their testing plans as needed.
Wesleyan’s response to pandemic was and is to think broadly about the welfare of their community. A small number of students are still residing on campus since the college campus is considered their home for a variety of reasons. Regarding prospective students, Gonzalez said, “The message I want to deliver to students and families is this is a time when you can’t possibly know the schools you are considering in whole. What students can know is to take the time to be reflective and not put together the most compelling application. There will be time for that later. This isn’t the time to be strategizing and thinking about how to gain a competitive advantage by picking up hobbies or activities that are outside of the norm. What is most important right now is your own welfare and the welfare of your families.”
Northeastern’s top priorities were to make sure their communities both here and abroad were safe and to ensure educational continuity so that students could move towards their educational goals. Additionally, Northeastern has gone test-optional for their undergraduate, graduate, and law school programs. (Wesleyan has been test-optional since 2014). “We are trying to be as flexible as we can. We don’t really know all the answers right now. Every day is something new and brings challenges we are trying to overcome. We are trying to be as student-focused as we possibly can and making sure that the students have some peace of mind as they are going through the process,” Thomas said.
Both universities have moved their admitted students days and prospective student days online with virtual tours, one on one chats, various information sessions and will continue to rethink how they provide information to families and students. Neither school tracks these sessions as demonstrated interest nor uses these to inform admissions decisions. Since the academic year has been disrupted, higher ed is being flexible in how they are looking at the end of the year grades for 2020. “We are never going to disadvantage a student for something that is beyond their control. If a student only has grades through March, that is what we’re going to consider. No decision is based on a single piece of information. Who you are as a student day in and day out over time is what’s going to be the most important piece of information,” Gonzalez said.
College advising at KO takes an individualized student approach and will do for the remainder of the year. Students have bi-weekly individual meetings with their college advisors, and families and students may request a Zoom meeting at any time. The office is open all summer for students and families to discuss their questions, concerns, and progress.
Changes to Standardized Testing
Canceled tests: some March sites, all May and June sites
Upcoming tests: August-December 2020
Online Availability: as of now, only in the event that schools are not open in the fall
Canceled test: April
Upcoming tests: June, July, September, October, and December
Online Availability: planning to offer exam online beginning in fall or winter