Applying to college is a stressful endeavor for seniors in itself, but the addition of COVID-19 is causing additional complications for standardized testing, college visits, and Florida Bright Futures scholarships. Many schools have modified their standardized testing policies to become test optional or remove the test score requirement in light of COVID-19. However, not many Florida schools are following this new trend.
“The state university schools are run by the Boards of Governors- they make all the decisions about the schools like curriculum, setting minimal requirements, and requiring test scores, ”said High School College Counselor Lisa Hauser.
Florida state schools are required under the government to follow the Board of Governors, which has not said anything about modifying the admissions process to become test-optional. However, their next meeting is September 16 and they could still alter their policies. Whether or not they do change their policies will rely on the number of SAT and ACT cancellations within the state. If a majority of Florida students are able to test, then the Board of Governors will most likely not make state schools go test-optional.
Whether the Board of Governors decides to change the testing policy or not will affect the qualifications for Florida Bright Futures. If the Board of Governors decides to go test-optional, the qualifications for Florida Bright Futures will become harder because they will have more students eligible, due to the lack of test scores. On the other hand, if test scores stay a part of the college admissions process, the qualifications will remain the same.
Lee Coffin, Dartmouth’s Dean of Admissions, reassures students that “ ‘optional’ is not a trick word” and that “every applicant would be considered fully without second guessing the omission or presence of a testing element.”
Therefore whether or not test scores are sent in as a part of the application will not affect one’s overall chance of getting accepted to college. College admissions offices are focusing on taking a holistic viewpoint for the class of 2021 due to the challenges of testing during a pandemic.
According to Anamaria Lopez, a holistic viewpoint is when admissions officers “seek to populate their student bodies with students who will best utilize the resources of the college or university to maximize their personal and academic growth and success.”
Meaning the admissions counselors are deciding whether you are right for their college or not based on all the information you send in. It’s not mostly based on test scores or gpa like some big school, such as the University of Florida.
Due to the pandemic, schools have had to change their policies for in person college visits. Many students are finding this very inconvenient and stressful.
Grace Lahart (21’) said, “It was annoying that I couldn’t tour my dream school, Loyola Chicago, this weekend when I went to see my family. Even though I have already seen the school once, I really wanted to tour again and get a feel of the campus.”
In replacement of college tours, virtual tours have been a new adjustment to the college admissions process. However, many students feel virtual tours are impersonal and do not represent the colleges’ atmosphere as efficient as an in-person tour. For example, Senior, Sarah Devaney did several virtual tours of southern schools such as Auburn, Florida State University, and University of South Florida.
“They were informational however they just showed me pictures of the campus and I would much rather have gone in person. I didn’t feel like I got an understanding of the schools, ” she said (‘21).
In conclusion, the college admissions process has changed drastically for Academy seniors, especially those who are planning on staying instate. However, colleges are trying the best they can to make it a smooth and easy process for seniors. If you have questions, please go talk to your college counselor, they should have all the answers and make sure to look at the list of tips below before applying.
Four tips for seniors applying to college:
Check your top colleges and see if they have altered their standardized test policies and or AP class credit policies.
Get creative with extracurricular activities for your activity resume.
Don’t forget financial aid opens October 1st.
Stay on top of your grades as well as starting your admissions process early. (p.s. many schools look at first semester grades)