By: Belinda Gonzalez-Leon, Ed. D., MBA
Ph: (305) 494-9389
Sun Tzu said, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” For college bound students, changes taking place due to COVID-19 may present opportunities for less test taking, a deferral becoming an acceptance, or qualifying for more financial aid. It is important that parents and students consider the available options and petition your college in case you can benefit from these changes. Dr. Yoshikawa of Creative Marbles Consultancy stated regarding high school seniors, “…the current situation may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a college of their top choice for which they were originally not admitted. Therefore, students offered a waitlist position may want to more seriously consider when electing (or not) to select a position on the waitlist, as well as continue demonstrating their interest in a particular campus throughout the spring.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SAT exams in March and May were cancelled. The June test date is still on the schedule and more test dates are expected for 2020. The ACT rescheduled its April test date to June. There is concern about test dates because colleges have deadlines that also require final test scores. This led several colleges to eliminate SAT and ACT testing requirements. For good students who are bad test takers- this is good news!
Boston University, Tufts University, and Case Western Reserve University all suspended SAT and ACT testing for applying students. Boston University waived the requirement for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters, but Tufts extended it to three years (2021 – 2023)! Many small private colleges, like Davidson College in North Carolina, are also suspending the testing requirement for three years but may adopt it permanently. All public universities in the state of Oregon have eliminated the need for SAT or ACT testing in their college application. Other small schools following suit include Drury University, Scripps College, University of the Cumberlands, Newberry College, Franklin College, and Villa Maria College.
The University of California (UC) has been the most important school to eliminate the SAT and ACT requirement. Their university’s one-year testing suspension includes the campuses more commonly referred to as UCLA and Berkeley. It is expected that many other schools will follow UC’s example. While some schools may enact this policy temporarily, it is likely that many will adopt it permanently. If students can show their level of readiness to enter an academically competitive college by taking a rigorous curriculum in high school and achieving high grades, then the need for standardized testing will continue to dwindle.
There are also general worries about attending college. In late March, Maguire Associates surveyed 6,700 students and parents that revealed great concerns about colleges in the New York-New Jersey area, Los Angeles, and Boston. Insidehighered.com reported that in their recent survey of over 7,000 high school seniors, 16% were considering a school closer to home rather than their original first choice and 12% were thinking about delaying their start to Spring or even Fall 2021. In a different survey cited, 29% of 200 students stated that they were going to wait to attend college until the COVID-19 crisis had passed. In addition, in a The Chronicle of Higher Education survey of college presidents, 84% expected a drop in student enrollment of both new and continuing students.
If students are changing their decisions of WHERE and WHEN to attend college, this may mean more open seats in the freshman class. Creative Marbles Consultancy is reporting feedback from admissions officers that they are planning to work their waitlisted students more because they anticipate under-enrollment for the fall 2020 start. If you were waitlisted or deferred from your college of choice, you need to contact your admissions representative. Whatever documentation you need to submit for your appeal should be submitted immediately if you have not done so already. Let your admissions representative know how much you want to attend school and that you are ready for Fall.
If your family is enduring money or health related issues due to the COVID-19 crisis, you need to call the college financial aid office NOW. In a survey of 487 students by HigherEd.com, 12% reported that they or a family member had a health issue that required attention. If your parent(s) has lost their job or had their work hours reduced; if your family business is losing money or your parent(s) cannot work until businesses open again- these issues could qualify you for more college financial aid assistance. The college you decide to attend may change based on the funding your college can award you.
The amount of financial aid awarded depends on the college’s cost of attendance subtracted by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is determined by your family assets (such as savings or investment accounts); how much income your family earns; the number of people in your family; and how many children in the family are in college. Debt is a minor factor because the strongest determinant is income followed by savings. Therefore, if your family has lost income or is using up its savings during the COVID-19 crisis, then your EFC has changed, and you have a greater need for financial assistance.
Related to the financial need of students and their families, colleges are preparing too. A survey conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education found that most schools were not planning to increase tuition, and a few reported they are considering reducing tuition. Eighty-?ve percent of the universities surveyed also indicated that they would reimburse students for room and board if the school was to go completely online.
There are many, many, many things changing the in the world of education. Because of this current crisis, students of all ages are taking classes online; grades of Pass or Fail are being offered; students are graduating without standardized tests; colleges are losing international students; several colleges are waiving deposits; and all types of deadlines are being extended. The National Association of College Admission Counseling is trying to keep track of all these college changes through this database: https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/newsroom/college-admission-status-coronavirus/.
As we get closer to the fall start of college, it is important that you do your best to stay on top of changes and see which are to your benefit. This is the time to reach out to your admissions representative and stay in constant contact. Ask questions about everything; find out what policy changes have occurred; negotiate if you can’t start in Fall or need more financial aid; and be sure to express your great desire to attend that particular school so that the school can make it happen.
THE FOLLOWING SOURCES WERE CITED IN THIS ARTICLE: