Coronavirus sparks change in college admissions

The abrupt closure of schools across the nation in March left juniors wondering how COVID-19 would impact the college admission process in the fall. Changes made to spring sport seasons and standardized tests provided students with little information regarding what the future would hold in lieu of these new circumstances. 

Beginning in early April, many schools made adjustments to the traditional application process. Select colleges declared that they would be dropping their SAT/ACT requirement for the next school year, and UC colleges eliminated the requirement for classes 2021 and 2022 as part of a plan to ultimately phase it out entirely. 

The proposal by the UC Board of Regents on May 22 laid out the plans for standardized testing for the coming years. “[In] 2023 and 2024, UC [will] be ‘test blind’…students would still have the option of submitting a test score, but that score could only be considered for purposes other than admission selection…By 2025, any use of the ACT/SAT would be eliminated for California students.”

Right now, I am not sure how COVID-19 will affect my senior year. Everyone is still unsure about how school will start back up,” Fiona Hawkins, junior said. Both K-12 and colleges have proposed several options for how school will pick up in the fall. Fiona Hawkins/With Permission

Many students feel that dropping these requirements is a step in the right direction. “Not making those tests mandatory has relieved a lot of stress for those of us whose tests were cancelled,” Fiona Hawkins, junior, said. 

Haley Rippon, junior, agrees, seeing the advantage this will have for many students beyond COVID-19. “Dropping the ACT and SAT is an opportunity for colleges to look at students based on their grades, extracurriculars and school involvement,” Rippon said. “It can also be beneficial to those who cannot afford ACT and SAT tutoring, so that some applicants will not have a testing advantage over others.”

Another adjustment to standardized testing was the cancellation of IB tests, announced on March 23. In place of traditional testing, grades will be determined through a combination of predicted scores from teachers and the Internal Assessments that were done throughout the year. 

For students in AP classes, the pressure was still on. AP exams were adapted to fit a 45-minute time constraint and content after mid-March was cut out. The possibility to earn college credit was still present, leaving students to prepare for the exams without traditional in-class review.

Opportunity – Colleges have made changes to their testing requirements. To many students, this is a chance to let other parts of their application shine. “Colleges will be able to look at aspects lf a college application that specifically pertain to the student’s academic performance, rather than just a generic aptitude test,” Haley Rippon, junior, said. Haley Rippon/With Permission

Despite setbacks, teachers still offered supplementary support through online learning. “Even though we had to do most of the review on our own, the teachers did provide a lot of study material,” Hawkins said. “Some of my teachers had zoom sessions where they reviewed the topics.” 

Because there are still many uncertainties for the upcoming application cycle, so grades mean more than ever to applicants. To work around school closures, districts nationwide have made modifications to grading systems for online learning. Locally, CVUSD implemented the “Do No Harm” grading policy.

In effect as of April 27, the policy reads, “A student will NOT get a lower grade or report at year-end than what they earned at the end of the prior grading period…students may increase their grades with completed work and/or assessments during this period of school closures.”

CVUSD School Board President Cindy Goldberg stresses the importance of the policy for the remainder of the school year. “Giving students every opportunity to raise their grades without being penalized by this particular situation is really important,” Goldberg said.

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