Current high school juniors who would ordinarily be starting the college process this spring are most likely at a loss wondering how to begin. Some students are still unable to take college admission tests and with college campuses closed for tours, figuring out which colleges are a good fit has become a little challenging. Here is the good news, it doesn’t have to be!
Some factors to consider in building the initial college list are still the same. What distance from home and location are manageable? What size school and setting are the best fit for your child? How much are tuition and fees? What majors are available?
Then it gets a little trickier. What are the admission requirements? With limited ACT and SAT testing available, how do you determine if a college is an academic match? GPA, which is also a factor, may be skewed from early closings last year and virtual learning this year.
Some colleges will remain test optional for fall 2022 admissions in response to the lack of availability of college admissions testing due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This approach means taking a more holistic view of the applicants. Academic rigor, grades, meaningful participation in activities, leadership, and community service are some of the factors that will be evaluated by college admissions counselors. When building the college list, students without ACT/SAT test scores should consider adding a school that has been test optional for several years. This will help students more easily determine if their academic profile aligns with the college’s requirements and past data on admission outcomes.
In this COVID world, students should review the college’s online learning. Does the college have a program in place? What are current students saying about their online experience? Students also need to include a couple of financial safety schools and perhaps consider their local community college. Given the economic crisis, what may seem affordable now, may not be when it is time to enroll. The college list should also have academic safety schools with a student’s academic profile exceeding the college’s admission requirements.
Every college list should have at least one dream/reach school. While your child’s grades and test scores may be slightly lower than what the college is looking for, it is the college that your child dreams of attending. Go ahead, add it to the list!
Take advantage of resources such as College Navigator, Niche, and College Board’s Big Future where you can discover schools that may not be on your radar. There are a lot of hidden gems out there!