Requirements to the college admissions process altered due to COVID-19


Avery Josephs

Haakon Lacy, AWHS sophomore views a brochure in the College & Career Center.

COVID-19, as well as altering people’s day-to-day lives, strongly affected the college admissions process. COVID-19 interrupted extracurricular activities and put standardized testing on hold, creating fewer opportunities to build students’ applications. Now, as current AWHS seniors begin their application journeys, they must adapt to a newly challenging admissions process.  

Due to COVID-19, schools across the U.S. transitioned to online learning. While the current 2021-22 school year has been all in-person at AWHS, students still feel the effects of distance learning.  

“Most of my junior year was online, so I didn’t get to learn as much as I would have in person,” said AWHS senior Frances DiCarpegna

Learning online did not hold the same effect as being in a classroom because collaborating with peers required a new approach. Some students may learn better when working in a group or community environment, which Zoom classes did not offer.

Students like Frances missed out on in-class opportunities to improve their education as classes became online, as a consequence of COVID-19. Frances felt that her education was hindered because of the challenges of online classes. 

“Some of the classes I was taking were really hard to learn through the computer. In general, it’s just harder to learn online, so I think it puts me at a disadvantage,” Frances said.

  Extracurricular activities normally hold importance in applications because they can show a student’s interests and self-motivation. Previous social distancing rules prohibited students from participating in said extracurricular activities, which is a crucial part of attracting college’s attention.  

In the past, a deciding factor in the college admissions process was college standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT. Now, as the SAT has been increasingly disregarded as unfair to unprivileged students, many colleges o longer require applicants to take these tests. The University of California (UC) is now test-blind, meaning that they will not even consider test scores.

“When taking the SAT now there are fewer people which equals less pressure. Fewer people feel the need to take it,” said former AWHS student Kole Wilson.

Wilson, a current junior at UC Davis, says that the college admissions process is easier to navigate now that college standardized tests are no longer required at certain schools. Owing to this change, he expects fewer students will take these tests in the future. 

Not only have the SATs and ACTs changed to test optional, students now have the ability to change their grades from an A-F grading system to pass/fail. On Jul. 1, 2021, California passed State Law AB 104, allowing high school students negatively impacted by distance learning to receive a pass or fail grades in place of letter grades. AWHS students may now use this to better their transcript when applying to college in their senior year.  

College administration boards are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 through applications, by minimizing requirements, putting anxious students at ease. Although COVID-19 complicated the college admissions process, students across California may now use new laws and rules to improve their high school transcript and college applications.