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The College Search Process has Changed. What is the Outlook for Seniors Now?

With a new school year in full swing, it would not be uncommon to find groups of seniors rushing to visit colleges, take standardized tests, and fill out applications in order to hit their end of the year college deadline.

However, this is no normal year. It is now more likely to find these scrambling seniors sitting behind computers and doing research online. Over the past six months, the college planning landscape has completely changed, seeing drastic shifts in priorities and focus for students, teachers, and colleges alike.

“The process is really condensed,” says Eastern Christian’s College and Career Director Mr. Fuller. “What usually begins January of junior year is now starting in September or October of senior year. Some students have managed to be proactive, but for most, because of the quarantine, students have felt stuck in many other ways.”

Due to the COVID-19 quarantine that started in March, the student-college relationship has changed to reflect these restrictions. The greatest change that many students face currently is the postponement or cancellation of standardized tests. Mr. Fuller believes that these changes to standardized testing, while a relief for some students, will make it more difficult for them to know what schools are within their reach. It will also put more strain on college admissions officers who now need to take deeper dives into portfolios and transcripts.

Students now need to use this site to check which SAT test centers are closed.

Another impactful change is the inability to visit college campuses. Now, most colleges are relying on online meeting services such as Zoom or Google Meet to give presentations to students and families.

“The Zoom calls are different from being at the college and lose the taste of what life would be like,” says senior Thomas De Block. “I feel like the online tours are not that professional or helpful because it’s a first for both the students and colleges.”

Although the college search process has changed drastically, students have been able to adapt to these changes and move forward in their search.

“My process has been okay,” Thomas expresses. “While I’m not a fan of the Zoom calls, they do allow me to look at colleges both near and far away.”

“My search process was alright,” says senior Michael Steiginga. “I got a lot of my stuff done quickly, so now I feel like I can kick back and relax.”

While quarantine hindered his ability to perform in soccer showcases for college sports, Michael has already finished his applications and been accepted into one college. “The fact that I’ve already gotten into one makes me feel confident in my other applications,” he says.

With all of these changes being made to this year’s process, it is unknown as to whether or not they will become a permanent aspect from this point forward.

“I could see a push against standardized testing,” predicts Mr. Fuller. “I think that there could be a new standard with less emphasis on standardized testing and more on other things, and I think it’s a good thing.”

With the uncertainty surrounding the current process, students may feel unsure as to whether or not they will be able to make it to college in such a short period of time. However, Mr. Fuller believes that, with the current circumstances, senior students will be able to make it to college smoothly. “It’s important to know that we are committing for four years, not one year,” he says. “What might be happening now will probably go away after the next year. Hopefully, colleges will be able to start opening up and loosening restrictions until they eventually return to normal.”

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