College applications amidst a nationwide pandemic

How the class of 2021 at KHS feels about college applications this year.

Senior+Sofia+Stack+working+on+her+college+applications

Sofia Stack

Senior Sofia Stack working on her college applications

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, colleges across the country are accommodating the application process to fit students’ situations; most have gone test-optional, are offering virtual visits instead of in-person ones, and on the Common App, there is even space for students to write about how the pandemic has impacted their lives. These changes make the college application process unique for current seniors, the Class of 2021 at KHS included. 

Some KHS seniors are not worried about the college application process this year. “Honestly, I feel like the whole process is fine and just like any other year”, says senior Lauren Lee. However, she notes that the pandemic did impact her resume: “The thing that really bothers me is that I couldn’t get all the activities I wanted to do done this year to help bolster my resume because of the pandemic.”

In contrast, other seniors find the process and its changes this year unnerving. “I feel a little unsure. It’s really stressful, especially because we [the seniors] haven’t had a lot of guidance on the steps of applying,” says senior Sofia Stack. 

Senior Karolyna Link agrees. “I feel really stressed and overwhelmed by the [number] of essays I have to write and I wish I started writing notes on them in the summer,” says Link. “Also it’s stressful when you start comparing your applications with others”. With deadlines approaching, many seniors share these sentiments.    

The test-optional policy most colleges adopted this year is also a concern for seniors. “I think it’s kinda a relief but it makes me nervous because then colleges are going to have to read essays and look at the other aspects of the application with a harsher eye,” says Link. She and many other seniors are worried that the test-optional policy will make college admissions officers more critical of their applications.   

Despite the policy, some seniors feel that having test scores is still important for college applications. “I’m pretty unsure of what to do about it,” says senior Jacob Prescott. “I’m not a big fan of the tests but it feels like it’s one of those ‘optional things’ that you kind of need to do.”

However, other seniors see the policy as helpful. “I feel that optional testing is beneficial for the students that aren’t great test-takers,” says Stack. The policy is also useful for students who did not get the chance to take their exams due to the pandemic. 

A few students are opting to send scores anyway to apply for scholarships or raise their chances of admission. “I guess it [the test-optional policy] is helpful for some of my more competitive schools, but I’m still sending my scores to a lot of my colleges for the scholarship opportunities,” says senior Maya Vaitovis. 

Just because they’re leaving a few things optional this year doesn’t mean they’re going to be any less selective.”

— Lauren Lee

Seniors also have mixed views on whether or not colleges are being more lenient this year. “I think that colleges are definitely more lenient this year with applicants due to the pandemic. A lot of seniors never got to take their SATs and it took a while to get adjusted to online learning,” says Stack.

However, there are some students that disagree. “On one hand you have things like optional testing and virtual visits in lieu of in-person ones, but on the other hand it’s still college and it’s still incredibly competitive,” says Lee. “Just because they’re leaving a few things optional this year doesn’t mean they’re going to be any less selective.”