COVID-19 and college: facing tough decisions

Cam Buhler, Staff Writer

Out of all the hardship and confusion that the coronavirus outbreak has caused for South students, one of the most difficult obstacles for juniors may be getting ready to apply for college in the fall.
Spring is an extremely popular time for juniors to do college tours. For many schools, early action takes place sometime in the fall or early December. With no way to visit these schools, students are left with confusion on what their future holds.
According to Justin Maccagnone ’21, over spring break he had planned to visit some schools with his family, but now a lot of schools have an alternate way of doing the tours electronically.
“All of the schools that I was supposed to visit are now doing virtual tours and presentations,” Maccagnone said. “The presentation part is pretty informative, but the tour doesn’t really give a good feel of the school, so I’m hoping to actually go to the schools as soon as I can.”
For Emily Crane ’21, during this spring she had planned to stay a weekend with her sister at college to get a feel for what the school was really like.
“I feel like in order to get an honest feel for a school you have to stay there for a weekend,” Crane said. “The tours show you what the academics are like and what the school has to offer, but staying there shows you what the kids are like. Since I can’t go anymore, I’ve been watching a lot of different college videos on Youtube and doing some other research.”
Spencer Rajewski ’21 said he hopes to make up for the tours he was supposed to do early next fall.
“I’m planning on applying for early action on all of the schools that I’m thinking about,” Rajewski said. “Most early actions are around November, so I’m going to have to do a few tours before then, but I really don’t want these tours to feel rushed or crammed.”
Another question that might raise concern for juniors is what is going to happen with SAT and ACT testing. According to Crane, a few schools have announced their plan for the class of 2021.
“Some schools that I’m interested in have emailed me and said that they will be test flexible,” Crane said. “I’ve also seen online that a handful of schools have completely switched to test optional when applying.”
When Maccagnone heard the news that some schools were changing their testing requirements, he said he was torn on how to feel.
“For kids who struggle with standardized testing, this news could be great to hear and could potentially be very helpful,” Maccagnone said. “But, for kids who have really put in the work on these tests and are hoping to get into competitive schools, this news could have hurt.”
According to Rajewski, the new change for many schools raises a lot of questions regarding the application process.
“I’m curious what many schools are going to be looking for now with all these changes,” Rajewski said. “Not only is the whole test flexible happening, but how is the new pass/fail concept going to play out with colleges?”
For now, there are still several unanswered questions for juniors who are awaiting to apply for college. Hopefully, colleges will be back in session by the fall and the questions that so many have are answered soon.