The college admissions process is undergoing significant and lasting changes due to the pandemic. For example, most colleges and universities have gone test-optional, and many will remain so beyond the 2020-21 admissions cycle. The financial impact on colleges and universities is also having an effect on institutional priorities.
With most high schools having gone either virtual or using a hybrid model last spring and now this academic year, grades are a less reliable indicator of academic performance. Grading systems have changed and the virtual and hybrid environments are not optimal for deep and thorough learning. Thus, it becomes difficult for college admissions officers to gauge a student’s mastery of a subject because there is no way to compare the performance to previous years at the same high school.
This means that admissions officers will place more emphasis on a student’s essays, extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations and community service projects when they review students’ applications as part of their holistic review process.
College admissions officers want to see how students have engaged with and have given back to their communities, have a sense of social responsibility and have done so in an authentic and meaningful way. It is becoming more important in college admissions that students are able to demonstrate their character through their actions.
One of the areas we focus on is community service because it is a way for students to demonstrate their character. It is important, even in this time of social distancing, for high school students to create service projects that give back to their communities in authentic and meaningful ways. Students also experience personal growth from their projects in the form of increased confidence, enhanced communication skills, and finding their resourcefulness for real-world problem-solving, among others.