College application process puts immense pressure on seniors

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Nani Gupta

Senior Nani Gupta is working on her college application essays after school. She is trying to get them done to be able to apply early action to all her schools.

The college application process is stressful for everyone, but this year it is especially taxing, as it brings challenges that no one expected.

Within the past six months SAT and ACT tests have been cancelled left and right. Students have traveled out of state to take the test to later find out it was cancelled, have not been notified of test cancellations and have not been able to sign up for tests at all due to the ACT website crashing. “Some students, myself included, were not able to take the test at all before the pandemic occurred. My tests were cancelled three or four times in the past few months. It is hard to find somewhere to take it due to the fact that all Maryland test centers are closed,” senior Nani Gupta said.

Because tests were cancelled nationwide, colleges decided to go test optional, test flexible or even test blind. The California school system has decided to go test blind, meaning they do not consider test scores a factor at all. According to fairtest.org, more than half of the schools in the United States have decided to change their test policy to make it optional to include test scores or use a different test.

I do feel like my essay, grades and activities need to stand out more than before, but it does take a little stress off of me knowing that scores are not as important.”

— Erin Chang

The changes in schools’ test policies causes a lot of confusion for students. They must decide if they should submit their scores or not. In the past students were able to decide which schools were safeties, targets and reaches based on the comparison between the schools’ average and their own score. Now, students are having trouble deciding what schools are safety, target and reach schools. With scores for most schools not being as big of a factor anymore, students’ grades, extracurricular activities, and essays matter more. “It is very weird not having the test scores be a big part of the college application process anymore. I do feel like my essay, grades and activities need to stand out more than before, but it does take a little stress off of me knowing that scores are not as important,” senior Erin Chang said.

Colleges changing test policies is not the only college application change that is occuring. Students this year with virtual learning do not have the access to teachers and counselors like they used to. They can not just walk into a classroom or office and ask questions they have about college and applications; now students have to email and set up a Zoom. “Due to Covid, the college application process has been a little confusing. There are many things I would normally seek help from my teachers or counselors, however we are online so it feels weird to do so,” senior Wyland On said.