College applications change due to COVID

Amanda Fronczak, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has led to a couple changes within this year’s college application process. 

Every year, college acceptance rates get lower and lower. According to CNN, the acceptance rate for Cornell University in 2015, was 15 percent and in 2019, it dropped to 10.6 percent. The release of the Common Application in 1998 was a big contributor to this drop. Students could easily apply to more colleges without doing much additional work, so schools saw the number of applicants grow and grow as the years went on. There will be no difference this year. 

The first change this year has to do with the significant increase of students who are taking a gap year for the 2020-2021 school year and will be starting college next year due to the pandemic. According to BBC Worklife, 17 percent of students have changed their college plans this year, and 16 percent have decided to take a gap year. This will cause the accepted number of students in this year’s Senior Class of 2021 to slightly decrease in order to make room for all the incoming freshmen. 

Another change to the application process has to do with standardized tests: the ACT and the SAT. Some Oregon and California schools have mentioned dropping these tests permanently from the application process for equity reasons, but even schools that are keeping these tests have dropped them from the application process this year, as many testing centers were closed due to COVID so students were unable to take the tests. Hundreds of colleges and universities, including Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, UCLA and Gonzaga, are not requiring the submissions of these test scores. This can be a positive change, especially since some students struggle with taking these tests. 

College tours and athlete recruitments have also been affected. In most scenarios, students will not be able to visit their top picks before applying and will most likely not be able to visit them when they get accepted. This is one thing that will make college decisions challenging, as students rely on campus visits to get a feel for what attending these schools will be like. Virtual tours, videos, asking lots of questions and doing research are the resources students will have to rely on for this school year. The Tualatin High School Online College and Career Center is a great place for students to get more information and help with applying and selecting a school. Jennifer Butts and Kathy Stallkamp are Tualatin’s College and Career advisors and you can make an appointment on the Tualatin High School website to meet with them or your counselors virtually.

The recruitment process for student athletes will be unlike any other year. Aurora Davis, ASB president and varsity basketball player at Tualatin High School, is looking to play Division 3 basketball in college. 

She has been participating in the athlete recruitment process and says, “I’m looking to play basketball in college, and the recruiting process has been going well! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know different coaches and players, and the process has helped me learn more information from people at the schools about the type of community. Overall, it has been pretty time consuming, but it’s definitely worth it!” 

College recruiters are most likely not able to meet with athletes in person due to the cancelation of official and unofficial in-person visits, tournaments and showcases, but are able to talk with athletes virtually. 

Overall, the college application process, along with most things, will look significantly different this year. Students are learning to be resilient with the challenges they face and will need to remember,  that even when things get tough, you are not alone and can always reach out for help. Seniors, remember to do your research, use your contacts, proofread that application one more time before submission and take a deep breath, because you’ve got this.