Global pandemic complicates college application process


drawing by Annika Houck

As a senior currently living through a pandemic, I am having to worry about keeping a mask on and college applications. Deadlines are looming, and I am not the only one planning my future behind a computer screen. I’m finding it difficult, to say the least.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But you’re class of 2021, they have made college applications so much easier for you this year!” And you would be right when looking at how colleges are making accommodations for the lack of in-person learning and experiences. However, quite a few issues are becoming very apparent.

First, my activities list is shorter than I had originally planned. Since I don’t have what would be considered a normal senior year, I don’t have any senior activities that I had planned to be a part of. Now, this would be fine normally, but I had planned to participate in more Burroughs activities during my senior year since I spent my junior year focused on academics. Because colleges look at how involved you are in school extracurriculars, this is a problem. A lesson that should be learned from this experience: get involved in school activities.

Another thing I’m finding to be harder to manage is writing college essays. Most colleges require at least one personal essay reflecting on an experience in your life that is meaningful to you. Colleges have already said they don’t want to read an essay on the coronavirus, which is something I personally understand. However, I’m not exactly sure what colleges are looking for in a good personal essay. Without one-on-one guidance from my counselors and new changes being introduced in the admissions process almost on a daily basis, I am feeling overwhelmed. Luckily the essay topics are the same from last year, but without help, expressing myself in a way that is both unique to admissions officers and true to who I am, my essays have the personality of a wet Saltine cracker.

While some colleges don’t require standardized testing like the SAT to get into their programs, they still want them for scholarships. Again, this would be perfectly fine in a normal situation. However, with already limited seating available and test centers closing, this is another challenge. If your test center closes, then you shouldn’t have to take any tests, right? Wrong. Burroughs High School is still open for SAT testing, which is wonderful. However, every test site in a 200-mile radius is closed. So, I am having to race thousands of students from out of town for the same SAT spot. The class of 2021 could be a bunch of piranhas, all snapping at the same test score at the rate this is going. Luckily I signed up in June to take the SAT in August. Some of my friends weren’t so lucky. On top of that, CollegeBoard is taking roughly a month to process scores now, instead of the typical two weeks. I still have not heard back from them.

At the end of the day, after hours of staring at the same Google Doc and dreaming of a world where COVID-19 never existed and I could live my life in peace, so far my efforts to impress people I’ve never met have not been totally pointless. The euphoric feeling of hitting that submit button and handing over roughly $80 per application is really not quite like anything else.