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Considerations about the admission and testing during the coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed tremendously the lives of millions of people, regardless of their age, social status, nationality, and gender. However, the special impact the recent quarantine has on the future and current students.

Great worries concerning their exams are related to the overall uncertainty. Some test administrations have already been canceled. Also, many admission processes to the colleges and universities have been changed, including the application timelines. Moreover, they will likely continue to change further. All prospective studies are also related to many open questions about housing, meals, jobs, and other study-related issues.

The natural outcome of this uncertainty may be the increased competition among students and possible discrimination. Luckily, all educational institutions seem to be oriented on dealing effectively with all new challenges. They not only look for short-term solutions but also think about the ways how to revise their testing and admissions approaches in the long-term perspective.

Revising early admissions

Many colleges have their Early Decision and Early Action plans. So, the interested future students could express their interest beforehand, during the early applications in October or November. This option will likely be revised and even eliminated. It can cause discrimination during any admission process because only those people who applied beforehand are more aware of all peculiarities of such admission. This is especially important in the case of personalized counseling. Many colleges and universities even manage to fill their future first-year class by half when they apply this approach.

Therefore, it is more appropriate at the moment to switch to the single deadline for admissions instead of having Early Decision and Early Action plans. In these new circumstances of uncertainty and social distancing, such an approach will likely be more sufficient.

Recent updates about tests

The quarantine has greatly affected all standardized tests. Many of the test centers, including SAT and ACT, have canceled their March, April, and May administrations. The ESL tests have also been suspended in those countries where competent authorities required such suspension. However, limited opportunities to pass these tests online still exist.

Despite the fact that June and July administrations remain as planned, it is still uncertain whether these test administrations will be canceled or not. Everything, in this case, depends on the spread of COVID-19.

Moreover, even the recently canceled test administrations have already created the situation when the nearest test center for some future students is hours from their place of living. This is another issue of access in the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

Test alternatives

The students from rich families can afford to have tutors, independent consultants, and school counselors. They can receive all the required solutions promptly. However, low-income families will definitely have fewer opportunities in this regard. Moreover, they will also have limited information and opportunities to develop their alternative plans. If taking into consideration the single one aspect of fee waivers, the ACT and College Boards never identify proactively whether any rescheduling of tests applies to such fee waivers. So, the applicants should figure out this independently.

The March SAT test illustrates this inequality very explicitly. Some private schools had more opportunities to hold this test in March and managed to do this, while all other centers were closed.

This uncertainty is another issue to reconsider for the enrollment specialists, as the subsequent test administrations also may be canceled. So, there is another question for the educational institutions on how to predict the success of their future students on campuses.

However, the Classic Learning Test can substitute all canceled tests. It was developed five years ago and can be passed remotely. Moreover, it is even less expensive than the SAT and ACT tests.

Taking into count the whole unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is discussed even to make such tests optional. This approach can prevent any privileges and discrimination. The boards even think about how they can substitute such tests in a different way. This may be, for instance:

  • the increased number of recommendation letters;
  • evidence concerning leadership and co-curricular activities;
  • participation in competitions.

So, these matters related to tests remain quite disputed. All you need in this case is to monitor relevant websites every day a couple of times to identify any updates you should be aware of.

Problematic issues of the access and admissions

During the admission process arise two serious questions related to obtaining information and financial opportunities for many future students. Canceled educational fairs, inability to conduct personal meetings with admission officers and visit campuses will definitely decrease the opportunities of low-income and students from distant areas.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic with a great degree of certainty will result in the economic crisis also. So, colleges and universities will likely orient themselves on more wealthy applicants simply to gain enough income to operate.

Such circumstances determine another necessity to search for alternatives and balance the representation of wealthy and low-income students.

Travelling to colleges

Some educational institutions provided additional opportunities to visit their campuses for applicants from the underrepresented distant areas. The expenses related to such opportunities were covered according to the “fly-in” programs. So, these future students were able to reach campuses to get information about their admissions. Usually, applicants submitted their application and/or participated in the associated nomination process to gain such an opportunity.

Many educational institutions considered such visits as the signs of interest. However, the recent COVID-19 quarantine and limited traveling opportunities of some applicants from distant areas can have a very negative impact on such students. The distant contact opportunities and virtual tours can be sufficient alternatives in this case.

Visits of admission officers

This current situation with the COVID-19 quarantine forced to cancel the traditional college fairs and visits of admission officers to high schools. It is obvious now that such visits will not be rescheduled for the nearest predictable future.

Again, in these circumstances, more wealthy students will likely have more opportunities. This issue determines the necessity to reconsider all approaches used to provide information and access.

For instance, online-resources and remote-counseling can substitute the educational fairs at the moment. Scheduling a personal meeting online with an admission officer becomes the real necessity to tackle the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alternatively, the admission officers may rely on their previous experience to create some informational panels with general questions and answers. Many colleges and universities already have such resources. However, the recent situation forces us to expand and update such panels with the latest information as frequently as possible.

Counseling

Even before the quarantine, the workload of counsels was extremely high. Still, the underrepresented and low-income students expressed their great interest and dedication to the counsels and the future admission process. At the moment, they lack the necessary information to make sound decisions, and their chances to succeed will decrease, respectively.

So, the recent pandemic and related consequences determine the necessity to place more counseling rescores, using even various messengers and remote access to communicate with the applicants from the underrepresented areas or poor families.

Extra advantages during the admission process

During the overall uncertainty, the applicants should think about advantages they may gain during the college admission process. For instance, they may emphasize any extracurricular activities to express their commitment and proactive approach. At the same time, many educational institutions are also interested in taking a closer look at such activities, as many tests have already been canceled.

However, the issue of inequity emerges again in this case. More wealthy applicants can have more time and opportunities to hold such activities compared with other low-income students or those who have some particular family or other responsibilities.

On the other side, some applicants may underestimate their extracurricular activities. This issue becomes interrelated with counseling activity, even online. This way, interested applicants can receive sufficient estimation of their work and encouragement to apply.

Financial issues

The costs of education were high for some applicants, even in good times. However, global quarantine will likely lead to the global economic crisis and strongly affect all students during the next years.

Taking into account the freeze of the student loan interest and considerations regarding the forgiveness of the students’ debt, the educational system should still reconsider its approaches promptly. Quite possible solutions for this matter can be online education with decreased tuition rates.

Reinventing the educational process

Actually, the recent quarantine has revealed all deficiencies of the current educational system and its inflexibility. The boards will have to apply their creative thinking to solve all arisen issues concerning testing and admissions.

To resolve these matters, educational institutions started to work on their new policies and procedures, implementation of virtual programs, the remote communication opportunities, and the creation of their new digital content. So, the boards do their best in order not to let this crisis be wasted.

So, if you find out about any opportunity to make your impact, express your opinion – do this without any hesitation. This proactive approach can help to tackle the recent challenges and make the future educational system more adaptive.

Quick and important Q&A for your convenience

Q: What steps should I take so as not to miss any deadline and the change of testing and admission requirements?

A: Encourage you to monitor daily, at least two times per day, the websites of the concerned test, your college/university. Please keep in mind that your local test center may be closed shortly, so you can be not informed in time personally. Therefore, pay special attention to your local media and your center’s website to receive all the required information on time. Only this way you will increase your chances to take early decisions promptly.

Q: Is it likely that the subsequent tests in June will also be canceled?

A: It is hard to predict at the moment. To be on the safe side, it is better to keep in mind other test dates in July and August.

Q: If I do not feel OK, but still uncertain about my health, can I take my test?

A: You should keep in mind that applicants will be checked before the test start. The ill students will definitely be turned away. It is prohibited to endanger other applicants during the tests. We encourage you to limit all contacts before the test to decrease the risk of being infected.

Resilience and other important things

This section is devoted only to support you. It is quite important during this likely endless situation with Covid-19.

Reaming calm is quite hard when your college admission becomes closer and closer, especially in these very uncertain conditions. Nevertheless, your success greatly depends on your emotional state and attitude. So, in these circumstances keeping yourself calm is the best strategy to follow.

Being nervous and worry about your future is quite normal, but counterproductive. Alternatively, you can cope with your negative emotions and reflections, just keeping a couple of simple things in mind:

  • your negative feelings are obviously reasonable, but cannot help in this situation;
  • you cannot influence the overall situation with this coronavirus; however, you can take control over your life, time, and emotions.

In the short-term perspective, this situation is pretty much confusing. However, in the long-term perspective, it can turn into great opportunities. Good things or bad things? Who knows?

All you need here is to cope with your emotions, study according to your plan, and pay special attention to your personality.

Tackle negative reflections

The main obstacles taking away your energy are your negative reflections concerning this overall situation with COVID-19. Dealing with such emotions will not require any special preparation, but can turn into some concrete benefits.

First of all, it is better to refrain from ignoring or struggling with your negative emotions. Let them simply be. At the same time, writing all your reflections can prevent you from getting stuck in such emotions. You may write down the worst scenarios.

Simply recognize that such scenarios:

  • can remain on your paper only, but can continue to exist in your mind.

If you choose the second scenario and pay your attention to them – with a great degree of certainty, you can automatically realize it. You focus on such a scenario as the most predictable picture of your future and pay your attention to your fears. Finally, they will overshadow any bright solutions that can help to resolve your situation. As you may guess, this is not the best scenario you should follow.

Alternatively, when writing down your reflections, you take the decision to leave them there. Your mind will be released from such negative emotions, and this space you may devote many other useful things.

Generating positive emotions

Instead, you can fill your mind with your positive emotions. This will create your background for further searches. For instance, you can:

  • expand your outlook while reading interesting books;
  • listen to your favorite or new music;
  • doing some artworks (drawing, painting, embroidery).

It is actually important to do what you want and gain positive emotional states. This productive environment will enable you to see far more solutions comparing with your previous state of anxiety.

Thinking about your future

Apart from the preparation for your future tests and studies, the quarantine time is also a period for reflections about your life, aspirations, and goals. Knowing yourself can always help to choose your future profession correctly and realize your potential to the maximum extent possible.

This habit will also help you significantly during your studies and afterward. Again, if you know yourself well – you always make better choices.

Gaining new skills

Well, before entering your college or university, you can develop many useful skills related to:

  • the most effective learning techniques;
  • memorizing any material;
  • software proficiency.

You may also devote your time to the development of any field-specific skills. This way, you can start to work on making a certain kind of mindset that your profession requires.

Additionally, look for some lists with the skills of the future. Take actions to develop such skills using various online-courses, for instance.

Final words

The matters of admissions and testing are pretty much challenging at the moment. The future students may deal with the inequality issues, the problems of financing, and the receiving of the required information. In these circumstances, all educational institutions should reconsider their approaches not only to solve the current challenges but also to cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Namely, it is discussed to emphasize the online interaction with admission officers to keep all applicants informed properly, especially the low-income and students from the underrepresented distant areas. Online education can solve the problems of accessibility and affordability. For most educational institutions, the main objective now is to turn this crisis into some concrete benefits the applicants may have.

However, this quarantine also provides enough room for the self-education, gaining new skills, and personal development.

Keep calm, be resilient, and have good luck.

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