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How Coronavirus will
affect rising seniors

Whether you’re a parent or a student, you’re probably wondering how Coronavirus will affect rising seniors. Due to school closures, these students may have to renegotiate nearly everything about their strategies.

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By NOELLE COMPTON

If you are a high schooler or a parent, you are probably wondering how Coronavirus will affect rising seniors, or current juniors. Ordinarily, this would be a very busy and productive time to make strides toward competitive college admissions. But with most schools being closed and most families being quarantined, this is no longer the case. Here, we hope to offer rising seniors some helpful information about how Coronavirus will affect events such as standardized tests, next year’s admissions, and more.

We are all trying to proceed as normally as we can, but the truth is that things are chaotic right now. Information is rapidly changing and it’s impossible to predict where we’ll be in a week, a month, or a year. 

How Coronavirus will affect grades

Before Coronavirus, most high schools did not have a contingency plan for prolonged cancellation. As a result, teachers and administrators have struggled to transition curriculums into an online format, which has proven far from ideal. Many students are not engaging in full time coursework, and teachers are limited in the oversight that they can offer. 

It is predicted that for next year’s admissions, colleges will be more lenient when it comes to spring 2020 semester grades. Traditionally, this semester has carried a lot of weight for college hopefuls. But in the craziness surrounding school closures, relying on these numbers would not be fair or accurate. That means that for rising seniors, fall 2020 semester grades are going to be extra important. Plan to work hard throughout the fall to maintain excellent grades, and expect that colleges will examine your course selection and performance closely. 

Under normal circumstances, fall semester of senior year is an intense time. On top of a difficult workload, students are also applying to colleges, which is a time consuming process. Therefore, smart students will do everything they can to get started on college lists and application essays over the summer. If you need help determining your college list so that you can plan your essay strategy, we recommend having us build your free Customized College Roadmap.

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How Coronavirus will affect standardized tests

As any junior knows, standardized tests are a critical aspect of the spring semester. While this information is constantly evolving, here’s a snapshot for right now: 

SAT and Subject tests: These have been cancelled through May. If you were scheduled for one of these tests, you can reschedule it for free or request a refund. June tests are scheduled as normal as of 3/27, but could change, depending on how events unfold. 

ACT tests: The April 4 testing date was rescheduled to June 13, but is likely to be cancelled. The July 18 test is scheduled as normal, but as with everything, it’s a wait-and-see situation. 

AP exams: In-person AP exams are currently cancelled, replaced by 45-minute take home exams. These exams are free-response and cover only material taught through March. If you find that you are unable to sit for these exams, we suggest that you save your notes and try again next year. Alternatively, you can try to negotiate with your college for credit later on based on receiving an excellent grade. However, it is our recommendation that you try your best to take the exam. 

IB exams: In the US, May tests have been postponed and are likely to be cancelled. Because the IB system is international, each country’s response may vary, so we’ll have to wait for more information as this situation unfolds. (EDIT 4/2: May tests have officially been cancelled. This will affect the awarding of certificates and diplomas in unprecedented ways. For the most up to date information, visit the official IB Covid-19 page.)

Now, as for how colleges will view standardized tests for admissions: Already, we expect colleges to be more flexible with their standardized test requirements, and already many schools have committed to going test optional. That said, if you are applying to a top college, it will help you stand out to get a great score on your SAT or ACT.

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College visits during Coronavirus

College visits are important for a couple of reasons. First, it is important for a prospective student to see the campus, experience the vibe, and connect with the community in person. Second, many colleges record every interaction that you have with the school in a process called “demonstrated interest”. Every time you open an email, attend a virtual event, or communicate with a faculty member (such as a regional representative), you get a little note in your file. Students who demonstrate strong interest are more likely to be admitted. 

This all said, it’s impossible to visit college campuses right now. For research purposes, we recommend that students use Campus Reel, where they can listen to real students give their uncensored opinions about colleges. Then, we recommend that students take a virtual tour, reach out with questions, and attend virtual events. Hopefully by the fall, you can reach out to the school again to see if it’s possible to arrange a visit.

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Extracurricular activities during Coronavirus

When school is closed and you’re stuck at home, it’s difficult to maintain extracurricular activities. But that will make it even more impressive when you do. If you are looking at applying to a top college, consider that one of the defining characteristics of a good activity is continuous involvement. How can you stay involved in your extracurricular activities during this time? 

Last week, I wrote an article on extracurricular activities any student can do from home. Check it out for ideas that you can use to suit your involvement. Then, if you need more, reach out to your high school and see if there’s anything you can do to help. It’s in times like these that we get to develop our character (and generate powerful essay fodder!). How will you wield this time to your advantage?

How Coronavirus will affect financial aid

Unfortunately, colleges have endowments that are dependent on the stock market doing well. With the volatility of today’s markets, we predict that next year, colleges will be much less generous with financial aid. Moreover, colleges are dependent on international students to pay full price to attend. Therefore, if large numbers of international students decide to play it safe and stay home, then colleges will be looking for domestic students willing to pay full price. If this sounds like you, we suggest adding a few more dream or reach schools to your list, because colleges will be looking for people like you. 

Conversely, if you think you will require financial aid, then take care to document your finances related to Coronavirus. In the event that you incur extra expenses or your family suffers major losses, then you can use this documentation in your financial aid negotiation.

The final word

We are all trying to proceed as normally as we can, but the truth is that things are chaotic right now. Information is rapidly changing and it’s impossible to predict where we’ll be in a week, a month, or a year. To all you worried rising seniors out there, just do your best. Take a deep breath, plan for a bright future. One way or another, we’ll get through this together.

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