How the Global Pandemic has Impacted College Applications for High School Seniors Around the Country

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Stamford high senior working on her college applications in class.

Alba Alizoti, Correspondent

Once again, that time of year has come for high school seniors: the dreaded college application process. Amidst all the traditions of senior year, from senior nights to pink outs to homecomings, students were expected to find the time to apply to college and prepare for the biggest step in their educational journey.

What no one expected, however, was the onset of a global pandemic that would upend life as we once knew it. Now, most senior activities have been modified according to guidelines or outright canceled; this combined with the shift to hybrid or even complete distance learning has made for quite the digression from the quintessential “senior experience”.

So, how has this pandemic affected arguably the most important part of senior year: college applications? We spoke to some seniors in Stamford and across the country to find out. 

Stamford High School senior Molly Emmens says “covid has definitely influenced where I end up committing. At this point we know it’s going to be around a lot longer than we want it to, so I want to go somewhere where they’ve handled the virus relatively well.” 

California high school senior Jacob Bower said, “We definitely have way less guidance from school since we’re all online and it’s fewer extracurriculars too.”

“Now that most colleges are test-optional, applying to college has been full of supplemental essays, more than usual. All the college deadlines combined with similar 11:59 due dates for our virtual classwork has made the application season even harder,” said Alabama senior Ella Donahue.

The many challenges were expected by most colleges, who have seen how covid has impacted student resources. 

National Public Radio reports that “wide discrepancies in access to the Internet, and to college guidance counselors tend to exacerbate inequities. Already, it seems to have driven a drop in students filing for federal student aid.” 

The consensus is still out on the long-term impacts this will have; from applications, decisions, attending college, and beyond, many things are still uncertain, much like the virus itself. One thing is for sure, however: this experience has been nothing like any seniors of the past experienced.

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