This week’s blog post is a tough one as I had never even anticipated writing this until the harsh reality recently hit all of us. My original plan was to do a college write-up since I was supposed to visit one of the colleges in New Jersey last week. After the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, followed by school closings, online classes, and cancelled campus tours, I was left with no choice but to focus on the practical implications of these hard times from a college admissions point of view.
As you are anxiously awaiting the results of your Regular Decision applications, you must have a ton of unanswered questions regarding the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on college admissions. I will tackle some of the most important ones here. Let’s start!
- Will there be a delay in the colleges’ release of decisions?
Most U.S. colleges and universities (if not all) are all set to release their decisions as planned with no delay. Even if some colleges and universities have switched from in-person classes to online classes, their staff and faculty are still reporting to work virtually. The admissions offices are mostly open and are operating on a regular schedule as we speak. You should expect to receive your admission decision on or around the posted date.
- Will the national reply date of May 1st pushed back?
Many colleges and universities are still debating this and trying to make a decision that will benefit their admitted students. Although some are leaning towards a June 1st deadline to deposit, it would be best to contact the college you would like to attend and ask about their deposit deadline. If you are in dire need of an extension due to socio-economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), you should email your college and let them know. If you ask for an extension, they will, more often than not, acknowledge your request and work with you. I can assure you that the U.S. colleges and universities are currently working day and night to serve the best needs of their students.
- How will the acceptance rates be affected in an environment marked by uncertainty?
Based on the gravity of the coronavirus (COVID-19), colleges and universities are having a hard time projecting yield rates (the percentage of admitted students who will likely enroll). A lot of applicants from the most-affected areas (such as China and some parts of Europe) might not be able to enroll even if admitted in the wake of this catastrophe. The economic uncertainty might also affect college enrollment negatively considering the fact that a lot of people are in danger of losing economic stability. This harsh reality could be seen as good news for some students who might have a better chance of admission at a college where they might otherwise have been denied. Additionally, the lower number of college applications submitted this year coupled with the recent policy change in NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices will certainly lead to higher acceptance rates by some colleges to avoid taking risks in enrollment management. That being said, it would be safe to expect bigger waitlists, as well.
- Since many college-hosted events (admitted student days, college tours, etc…) have been cancelled, how will students be able to make their final decision?
In the light of the recent outbreak, many colleges and universities have done the right thing by canceling all scheduled events. Nothing is more important than health, so we have to thank all higher education institutions for doing the right thing! This does not mean that you will have to say “yes” to a college without further being informed about what they offer. Many platforms are already in place for you to explore colleges in depth. Some colleges are partnering up with PlatformQ Education to offer virtual admitted student days. Contact your college and ask if they provide that option. If you have not seen the campus before, watch a college tour on the college’s website or on YouTube, which is the easiest way to see a college virtually. You can also watch virtual college tours on websites such as YouVisit, CampusReel, and eCampusTours. Some of these virtual college tours are so informative that you will think you have seen the campus for real!
- How can admitted students connect with a current student before making their college decision?
Now that attending an admitted student day is not an option, you might be feeling disappointed not to be able to speak with a current student. Do not worry! Most colleges will be more helpful and cooperative than you think if you just reach out to them. Simply email them and ask to be connected to a current student. You will probably be connected to a student via Skype or some other virtual realtime tool.
- How will current high school juniors be able to show demonstrated interest when they cannot visit college campuses?
There are many other ways of showing demonstrated interest. In addition to attending virtual college tours (see above), participating in online college fairs is another way of connecting with the colleges of interest. When you visit a college virtually or through an online fair, make sure to take lots of notes. Write down the questions you have, and then email your Admissions Representative. You can usually locate the contact information of that person on the college’s website. In your email, briefly introduce yourself. Let them know that you have attended the virtual tour and/or online fair but do have some questions. That will definitely be considered as demonstrated interest, and your name will be kept on admission records. If, for some reason, you do not have the means to connect with the college virtually, do not lose sleep over it. Colleges will definitely be more lenient on their policies during the 2020-2021 admission season. You can just let them know on your Common Application that due to the limitations caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), you have not had a chance to visit the campus. They will totally understand and will not penalize you. Keep in mind that not all colleges consider demonstrated interest, so you might not even have to worry about it after all. Here is a list of colleges that do and do not consider demonstrated interest in college applications.
- How will standardized testing be affected?
The College Board has cancelled the May 2 SAT administration. Make-up exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled for March 28) are also cancelled. Registered students will receive refunds. The College Board announced on March 20 that free, live, and on-demand AP courses will be offered along with a new at-home testing option. According to the recent information released by the IB, the May 2020 examinations scheduled for April 30-May 22 will no longer be held, and students will be awarded a Diploma or Course Certificate depending on what they registered for. As each organization that administers standardized tests is cancelling some test dates around the world, checking out their websites regularly for the most up-to-date information is the best way to be informed. Here is a list of all the test agencies and their list of affected tests and dates:
The 2019-2020 college admission season has shaped up to be one where colleges cannot take risks. Seniors! This is your year! I have a feeling that you have the upper hand this time around! You are in for a treat that has been unprecedented in the world of college admissions! Wishing you the best of luck as you hear back from colleges…
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is important not to panic but to be prepared for what lies ahead. Coronavirus (COVID-2019) will change the world as we know it. We are about to enter a new era where virtual reality will become our reality. There are still so many unknowns due to the rapid spread of this virus, so a lot can change overnight. At EdMission Possible, our customized virtual college counseling services make it possible to work with students from all states across the U.S. as well as many countries around the world. Social distancing is the key to fighting this vicious virus, and we are here to help you do that with our online counseling services while we guide you to put your best foot forward in your college applications. We will get through this and come out even stronger. We will prevail. This, too, shall pass. In the meantime, do not delay your college plans.
Looking forward to brighter days…
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Independent Educational Consultant, Founder, and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She has completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for over 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc.
Burcak is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a Voting Member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC). She currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.