By: Ira Sharma
If you’re in high school, chances are that you are worried about your future- especially college. College admissions rank high on the stressors that high school students experience, alongside family, work, and grades. As college apps close out this year, changes are being made to standardized testing and the admission process.
For one, the SAT/ACT essay requirements are getting dropped at some schools, while many schools are dropping any SAT/ACT requirements at all, including SAT subject tests. This shift away from testing has been slowly happening for a few years, but with the pandemic stopping students from taking these standardized tests, many institutions have decided to not make it needed. As test scores decrease in significance, extracurricular activities remain an essential part of the application. However, many schools are trying new things this year when it comes to getting to know a student personally.
Many schools have changed their admission process to include much more personal questions about a student’s personality, values, hopes, and dreams. As colleges take an increasingly personal look, many college admissions specialists hope it will allow for a more diverse, talented group of students. Since the COVID-19 Pandemic took a toll on extracurriculars, sports teams, and other activities, it is also expected that college admissions in the future will be shorter and more to the point. Now that many students were unable to finish their last season of a sport or last competition for a club, the admission process will have to be a lot more streamlined. Another portion of the application changing involves scores- many colleges are actually allowing students to self-report scores. Having College Board send your scores to many universities can get expensive, so many schools have adopted self-reporting scores, and confirming those scores with College Board upon admission. Early Action/Early Decision programs are also changing. Many schools have started offering these options as non-committal, less restrictive, so you could apply to multiple schools for early action. However, with normal applications, many institutions are actually going to extend their deadlines to fill their classes beyond May 3rd. It’s expected in 2021 that getting information about acceptances could take longer, allowing more students to apply.
Finally, a welcome change in the admission process is the prospect of more financial aid available now, in the form of need-based applications, and also academic scholarships. Universities fearing students not attending because of the price are putting more money into offering financial aid. This may prove very helpful to most students, especially those whose financial situation has been changed because of the pandemic.
I’m a freshman in high school, and very excited to see the changes in college admissions in the next 4 years. There’s been such an emphasis on perfect scores and grades so far, so I’m excited to see that colleges are taking an interest in getting to really know students personally. Hopefully, this will reduce the phenomenon of burning out in high school, and give students more time to develop as a person rather than simply develop academically.