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U.S College Applications Post Covid-19
Written by Youngha Lee | Published. 2022.01.17 19:05 | Count : 478

[University of California, Los Angeles Photo Credit: Youngha Lee]

It has been a year and a half since the outbreak of Covid-19, which brought unprecedented changes in our lives. Finally, everything is slowly returning to its original state; however, the permanent changes made to the United States college application are more significant than ever, impacting not only colleges but also students. The unprecedented circumstances have limited colleges’ capability to evaluate students, so it became harder to predict which students will receive acceptance letters. 

Since Covid-19 limited the span of our activities, many colleges started to exempt SAT or ACT scores from applications. Both SAT and ACT are standardized exams that most colleges use as student data. After the outbreak of Covid-19, some colleges decided  not to accept the scores at all, while other colleges made them an option.

For example, in May 2020, the University of California announced that all UC colleges are making the test blind for two years. This means that test scores will not be considered as a part of admission. Furthermore, students needed to replace offline activities such as volunteering with other activities that can be done without in-person meetings. With these changes, college applications became different from the pre-Covid days.

There are still pros and cons to changing college applications. People who claim that the change of college application helps students believe that this change puts less burden on students, especially during the pandemic. Optional ACT or SAT scores mean fewer academic requirements for students. In the past, most students who wanted to go to highly ranked colleges had high scores on the ACT or SAT.

Without a high score, the chances of going to a well-recognized school were significantly low despite devoted extra activities. Also, Covid-19 disturbed students’ progress on extracurricular activities since the lock-down limited many facilities. It has been challenging  to pursue work experiences and community services. As a result, some people believe that colleges will not mainly focus on these extracurricular activities. 

On the other hand, others oppose the change of college applications. The main reason for their opposition is that this change confuses both rising and current seniors. Most universities had the same policy on college applications in the past, but now each college has different policies. For instance, some colleges require students’ ACT or SAT scores while other colleges accept them as options. Thus, these different policies for each university confuse students who are already burdened with student responsibilities. 

Furthermore, there are fewer objective indicators influencing applications. Since official ACT or SAT scores became optional for many schools, whether colleges can objectively evaluate the students' academic ability is in question. Therefore, this may be disadvantageous for students whose strength is high test scores.

Tony Jeong, a peer in the Crean Lutheran High School says, “most students agree with the change of college application because I feel less burden about academic requirements.” He added, “I studied for my AP exams instead of SAT when colleges announced that policies for the class of 2022 will also be test optional.” He also expected that essays will be the most important part of this year because colleges do not evaluate students with objective indicators affecting college applications, so he had to focus more on writing his college essays. 

The college application season for the class of 2022 will end in the near future, and it will soon be the time for the class of 2023. New types of indicators that can examine the suitability of students will appear. Making more objective indicators for college applications, colleges need to evaluate the student’s ability fairly, like how the University of California is trying to create  a new test for the evaluation. However, the pivotal point is that colleges should not confuse students but instead  work for their fair outcomes. 









Youngha Lee
Grade 12 
Crean Lutheran High School




Youngha Lee  hsr@dherald.com

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