With college application season approaching, many rising seniors are anxiously awaiting the infamous college admissions process. Like most activities, the coronavirus has impacted the college admissions process. Without campus visits, in-person information sessions, and summer programs to experience college life, many students may be asking themselves: What can I even do?
Here are some tips that I have found helpful in my own ongoing college search.
Go To Virtual Information Sessions
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools have begun to offer online information sessions that include all of the information you would have gotten at an in-person session. Understanding various aspects of a school is an extremely beneficial way you can prepare yourself for applying to colleges. Also, for colleges that track demonstrated interest, this can be a good way to show you are considering all that a school has to offer. Many schools have also begun to offer different online sessions, such as a college application workshop or an informational session on how to address the essay section.
Go On A Virtual Tour
In addition, not only do most schools offer virtual information sessions, many also offer virtual tours. This can come in the format of a virtual reality tour that is available to you at any time; however, many colleges are also offering a virtual tour where current students share more about their university experience while also guiding prospective students through a virtual reality campus tour.
Listen To Students That Go To A College You Are Interested In
If you know someone who currently attends or has attended a college that you are interested in, don’t be afraid to reach out! Most students are happy to share more about their college experience and appreciate that somebody else shares the same interest as them. In addition, some universities offer the opportunity to listen to a student panel or even get matched up with a current student who can also add some enlightenment on more specific aspects of a college or university.
Look For Scholarships
There are many merit- and need-based financial scholarships that are available to research and even apply to right now. Here are just some of the organizations that have been helpful in finding various scholarships (both merit- and need-based): collegenet.com, scholarships.com, niche.com, fastweb.com, SallieMae.com, finaid.com, and cappex.com. College Board also has many scholarships available to high school students, so make sure to take advantage of all the scholarship options that are available!
Start Working on Your Applications
The common application is available for incoming seniors to start their application with all of the personal statement questions provided. Select universities also have their university-specific questions determined and provided on their admissions websites or the common application website.
Check Which Schools Are Test-Optional
With the coronavirus also impacting testing options, many students haven’t had the opportunity to take standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. Therefore, many colleges in the United States have opted into a test-optional admissions policy for the 2020-2021 school year. Some schools have even gone farther by declaring that these standardized test scores should be obsolete and have decided to move into a test-optional policy farther than this immediate admissions cycle, such as the University of California system of schools. Either way, this information is easily accessible and understanding which schools need your test scores is one way you can prepare for the future right now.
Prepare For Standardized Tests
If you have already gotten a score that you are happy with, congratulations! If not, this summer can be a fantastic time to work toward your ideal score. While it is unclear how many testing centers and dates will be available in the fall, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared if you get the opportunity to show off your hard work.
Talk To Your Parents About What Is Financially Viable
Everybody has a different financial situation and it is important to address what yours is before applying and eventually choosing which college is right for you.
Understand A College’s Requirements
Different colleges may require certain classes to be taken. Most international schools require test scores as the deciding factor for admission. Be sure to understand what tests you may need to take and what scores will make you a competitive applicant in order to set yourself up for success.
Many colleges offer special programs that are directly tied to a certain area of interest. In addition, some colleges offer joint degree or dual degree programs where you can mix two of your interests together.
As a current high school senior, trust me, I know how intimidating the college admissions process may seem, but after talking with current college students about their retrospective application tips, many say to get started as early as possible. Some colleges have already released their supplemental essay topics; however, many more will release them on or after August 1. Be sure to take these tips into consideration as you venture into your own college application process, you got this!