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Commitment Day: The New COVID-19 Journey of College Applications

While so many people this year had to focus on the struggles of our monotonous lives through a pandemic, the class of 2021 seniors had the added pressure of applying for colleges in a time like no other.

While the college application process stayed the same, there were many things that were new and needed to be worked around for the success of these students. For some students, college tours are what can really make it or break it on a personal level. With the inability of being able to go on led tours, students were left with trying to figure out ways to discover the place they would be spending the next four years of their lives.

Senior Kate Staddon said, “ I did not get to tour colleges because of the pandemic. I just had to use platforms like Youtube and Instagram to get a feel of what the campuses would be like.”

If anything, social media has shown to be somewhat helpful for a good portion of things throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite there being resources posted by other students documenting the joys and horrors of their college experience, universities also took on some responsibility to try and assist students in finding the right fit for them.

Senior Josef Kiesenhofer said “I guess one good thing from COVID would be that these colleges were forced to do a ton of virtual opportunities so I actually got to virtually tour some schools… It’s really important to explore the campus in person if you can because the school will probably show you the campus from the best perspective and it’s important to get a feel for the surrounding area to know if you want to be at that school.”

The most notable change from this year was that many schools moved to make their admissions test-optional. This response came as many students at the time had all of their SAT and ACT testing canceled or delayed due to the uncertainty of COVID-19. Month after month tests were canceled for public safety until universities reached the point of realization that almost no one was going to be able to take either of the tests. While there is a majority of students that consider themselves to not be great test takers the test-optional aspect was a sigh of relief. However, this left an added amount of stress on college admission essays.

The highly stressed college admissions essay has always been used as a key tool for getting to know a student that may possibly be accepted to an institution. Whilst, students knew that it was going to hold more weight this year, there was a bit of regret in the choices made about their essay completion ethic.

When speaking on her applications to multiple universities, Senior Nusaibah Alam said “ Some were easier than others but looking back, I wish I took more time in reviewing my essays… don’t do your essays the last minute, make sure you take your time on what you write about carefully word it.”

Involvement had become a key issue for many students trying to round off their high school years before they applied for college. Besides grades, the activities a student does while in high school give an even better picture of what a student is like. With so many clubs, internships, and volunteering opportunities being canceled it put a dent in senior’s plans to give their applications that last final bump.

Kate Staddon stated, “because of the pandemic I was unable to complete an in-person internship. Other than that, I was able to keep up with clubs and activities.”

Even though school activities may not have been happening, some students got jobs in order to give them real-world experience. This was just one more thing they would be able to put on their college application.

Senior Elsie Ferber said this when asked if online-learning put a damper on certain aspects of her college application. “Yes, definitely extracurriculars especially ones at the school. I did however get a job so I could have that on my application during this pandemic and became a team lead within the first three months so that was kinda nice to have for my applications.”

The college application process still contains the core system it has been running on for years and years now, but there have been some minor and major changes made to it. There is much uncertainty about what will continue to push forward to the next classes of seniors that may have to endure similar things. All they can be left with is advice from those who went through not only the college application process but the changes that came along with it this year.

Senior Marilyn Riera said, “ I would probably tell them that if they have the opportunity to find someone to help them with their applications then do that, but if they can’t they’ll be just fine.”

Josef Kiesenhofer stated “Firstly, start demonstrated interest as soon as possible. Demonstrated interest is this thing that colleges do where they track how you interact with the school to see how interested you are. This can sometimes play a role in the application process (Tulane is one example of a school that highly values this interest). Start signing up for the school’s newsletters, virtual admissions events, and maybe even interview if they offer it.”

Nusaibah Alam said, “Choose a school that fits who you are as a person and that’ll be best for your future!”

Now with commitment day right around the corner, the Class of 2021 seniors is splitting up after many years of classes together.

Kate Staddon has committed to UW at the Foster School of Business.

Josef Kiesenhofer has committed to Tulane University in the Honors Program and the Altman Program for International Studies and Business.

Nusaibah Alam is deciding between UW and WSU Vancouver.

Marilyn Riera has committed to WSU Pullman.

Good luck to the Class of 2021!

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