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Early Application Deadline Approaches as Students Adjust to Changes

October 21, 2020

With Nov. 1 coming up, high school seniors are preparing to submit their early action/decision applications.

The stress for seniors is higher than ever, as the end of term one and early action/decision deadline are on the same date. They must now put together applications and finish up the last tests and projects of the term. 

“We all know, even the people who review applications, that things have just been different so we have to look at spring, summer, fall even within the context of a global pandemic,” Heidi Meyer, University of Minnesota’s Executive Director of the Office of Admissions, said. “I think this is also a good time though for students to maybe share some information about what they did instead, as it provides a particular school with information about the student and that is always helpful.”

This could also include answering the optional question on the common app that many schools are including that asks how COVID-19 has affected you in classes, extracurriculars, and your overall well being.

Along with activities being affected by COVID-19, ACT/SAT testing has been changed as well. Over 1,000 of the 4,000 plus schools in the U.S. have made ACT/SAT testing optional this year. Many schools have also chosen to make this a long term plan for as far out as 2025. 

Schools like Northwestern who take 53 percent of their freshman class from early action/decision applications are affected heavily by these changes.

With testing being optional, students still have the opportunity to submit their scores. This poses the question, will students who submit their test scores be more likely to be accepted into their school of choice?

“Our review has always been a holistic review of academic and context factors of which the SAT or ACT was one of them so what this just means is that we may have the scores from one student and we might not from another but we’ll still look at high school coursework, grades, the major that a student is looking at,” Meyer said. “All of those things in context with the students academic situation are all looked at in the admissions process, so this really is not a problem to not have this piece of information.”

The change in testing will benefit some students or do no harm to others. If a student had a test score that truly showcased their learning ability, they could still submit. Although students who have test anxiety or test much lower than their actual GPA could benefit greatly without the score dragging them down. 

Kate Larrabee, senior, decided not to submit her ACT score since she didn’t get the chance to retake it.

“For some of my colleges there was a little box asking what was your reasoning for not submitting your scores and I just told them with COVID I never got the opportunity to retake the test and try to get a better score,” Larrabee said. “I’ve heard back from the college representatives and they were all very understanding.”

Some students have also not had the opportunity to visit many of the schools they normally would’ve. 

“I’m trying to encourage students to get to know themselves better and what kind of environment is a good fit for them so they don’t waste their time trying to visit or go to schools that really aren’t a good fit,” Dr. Michelle Kuhl, President of college consulting firm Grey Girl Life Incorporated and HHS parent, said.

This is crucial due to the fact that applying early decision is a binding agreement, promising that if a student is accepted they will attend the school. The financial burden of applying early decision is also harsher this year as the unemployment rate is lower than usual, at 7.9 percent, and many families are unsure about their financial future.

With these factors in mind, the early action/decision deadline approaches and students must decide if they will take the steps to apply, COVID-19 style.

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