College Challenge: Applications Amidst Pandemic

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By JERRY CHEN ’22 and AKILAN MANIVANNAN ’22

To say the global pandemic impacted the lives of students would be a mere understatement. The 2020 school year has been considered a disaster to many, with major repercussions overwhelming the everyday lives of Americans. The rapid spread of coronavirus has warranted a whole new lifestyle, a collective change in mindset, routines, and lifestyles. People have to think twice before stepping outside–wearing masks has become an unexpected necessity and hand sanitizers are a required.

Society lives in fear of the next cough or sneeze, praying they avoid the deadly virus. Social lives, the government, and education, especially, have all seen detrimental consequences. Due to the pandemic, students are forced to face the reality of these new changes; living a mundane lifestyle in order to fulfill these new adjustments, ultimately harming student activity and mindset. Now factor in the college application process, and the outcome isn’t pretty. 

Srikar Boggavarapu ’21 stressed his concerns over future obligations concerning the college application process.

“Despite taking the SAT before the pandemic, my anxiety with regard to the college process was still at an all time high,” Boggavarapu said. “Since this is a new experience for all of us, I am still somewhat confused as to the criteria needed for college.”

College education in America is widely considered a necessity in forging a bridge between teenage life and adulthood. Applying to colleges to secure one’s seat in a university has always been a difficult challenge because students are competing against the rest of the world for admissions.

“Society lives in fear of the next cough or sneeze, praying they avoid the deadly virus…”

Typically, when a student applies to a school a resume is submitted. Attached to that document is a student transcript (which includes but is not limited to: grade point average or GPA, attendance, and classes), extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations, standardized test scores, and essays.

This process takes a while to complete and can be quite the obstacle as students scramble to assemble these individual parts. On top of that, financial situations need to be considered, making the college admission process even more difficult to handle. The difficulty of this task is amplified amidst pandemic as these individual parts become harder to assemble. 

Standardized tests in America like the SAT and ACT have always been a major factor in distinguishing student applications. In a typical year, students take the SAT or ACT at their school testing center, in hopes of receiving a top score. However, quarantine has made this process an insurmountable wall for both educators, test proctors, and students. Exams dating back to as far as March of this year, have been cancelled several times due to failure to meet government standards for proper social distancing. Because of these difficult standards, fewer people will have an SAT score to submit, reducing their chances of admissions. 

The solution to this issue, as colleges assumed, was making the SAT optional; however, doing so doesn’t fix the concurrent problem. While it is true that hundreds of schools have taken off the requirement, some students are still able to submit an SAT score. Those who submit a score presumably have a higher chance than those who don’t, despite the removal of the SAT requirement. Ultimately, student concerns and frustrations persist as the problem presented remains unresolved.

Indeed, senior anxiety is at an all time high. The process for each college is now different and confusing, adding on to the already-perplexing college application process.

As students continue to battle through the hardships presented during the global pandemic, educators across America gain valuable experience. Being the first generation to ever encounter such a dilemma will establish a precedent for the future as colleges adjust their admission standards to help alleviate student and parental concerns over academic issues.