The Continued Effects of 2020 on College Admissions


Emily Connor '22, Staff Writer

All high school students in 2020 not only had the end of their school years disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic but are still feeling the disruptions as they move into their college years as well. Recent graduates, particularly those of the Class of 2020, are feeling the effects of financially having to move into a whole new chapter of their life on a computer screen.


Starting for the Class of 2021, SAT scores had become optional for college admissions. Due to a lack of testing sites, many students were not able to take the exam, forcing colleges to rethink their requirements for incoming freshmen. For the current high school senior class, 2022, students have to decide whether or not they would like to submit their SAT scores. Colleges insisted that whether or not you submit your scores, they would not penalize you in the admission process. Since colleges have to revise their requirements, it should open up their horizons to the kind of person that has applied, not an automatic elimination judgment based on your test score. However, it is recommended by experts to submit scores so it can open up more opportunities for scholarships and more.


What if you do not submit a test score?

Rising college freshmen are receiving mixed signals about what can and cannot hurt them in their college admission process. Christopher Rim, the founder, and CEO of Command Education commented on the effects of possibly not submitting test scores. Rim stated, “If two students from the same school are applying and they have similar extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, GPA, and one student submits a test score that is perfect or near-perfect and one doesn’t, who is the college-going to accept? Most likely the student with the test score”. 


Although there seems to be more flexibility in current admission processes, colleges are resorting back to their old ways of favoring students with high test scores. SAT and ACT scores do not fully exemplify what kind of student will be attending that college though. Test scores do not show what that student has received in grades over the past four years or how involved they are in their school community. Therefore, colleges need to use this new test-optional practice to their advantage and look at more students who are stronger in different areas that will positively impact their campus. 


The Cons of Legacy Admissions

Legacy admissions are the next factor that was affected due to the pandemic. Many families and students are starting to question the value of furthering their education since the pandemic drastically hurt families financially. Students who apply to schools where their family members are alumni receive some type of financial support due to their relationship. Most commonly, private institutions favor students who have alumni in their families when receiving their applications.

 According to “How Recent Events Reshaped Admissions” published by U.S. News, private institutions favor those kinds of students more than public institutions do, “… a 2018 survey from Inside Higher Ed, admissions directors at 42% of private colleges said legacy was a factor, compared with 6% for public colleges.”. This issue has been a topic of conversation since the pandemic started because families that are more financially stable than others are receiving money that they do not necessarily need. For example, students who need more financial help can apply to a prestigious private school but can not receive extra money due to them being related to alumni. Yet, on the other hand, a student whose family is in a good spot financially will receive extra tuition money just from their relationships. People have been quick to point out this issue that colleges have implemented and want to change the rules as a result. 

Every student should receive the same opportunities to attend an institution that they deem will be beneficial to their success. Colleges must use this time to revise the rules that have been implemented for years. It is a perfect time to accept students to their campuses that are more than a test score or related to past alumni and focus more on the individual that they are.


What can you do?

If you are a student who is currently applying to college, build your resumé! The biggest lesson learned by students throughout this altered admissions process is to be strong in areas that show the person you are. Forget about your test score, and show the college what extracurriculars you have been involved in and how you have spent your high school years to grow as an individual. Colleges look at what you have been involved in to see how you can positively impact their institution (which is much more powerful than a test score). 


Most importantly, use this current shift in the admission process to your advantage. It is not going to hurt you to brag about yourself to secure your spot for the school you are trying to get into. That is why building that resumé and getting involved is much more impactful. 


The Time is Now

Although this period of time is difficult to try and figure out future plans for yourself, now is the time. No one knows you better than you know yourself, and it is now your job to use that to your advantage. The best way to secure your spot in a college that will benefit your future plans and successes is to be yourself and show to that school how you will make a positive impact on their institution.