How Has COVID-19 Affected the College Search This Year?


Photo courtesy of Arielle Zane

Arielle Zane (‘21) poses in front of the University of Richmond where she will be attending in the fall.

Grace Lim, Life Editor

While the college search and application process is stressful as is, the pandemic has thrown the conventional college admissions process into disarray. The shutdown in early March of 2020 and into the following months meant that prospective students wouldn’t be able to attend in-person campus visits or information sessions. Students instead needed to turn to their own online research and resources to consider which schools to apply to.

According to Arielle Zane who committed to the University of Richmond (‘21), “I have always thought Richmond was amazing and I got to visit very early, but the restrictions on other visitations made my college list far narrower. I’m definitely fortunate to have gotten into a school I really loved, but I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t get in since my list was so much smaller than it would have been.”

There has been a lot of anxiety surrounding finding the perfect school, especially with the changes to the college process this year. The increase of schools opting test-optional has surged the number of colleges that seniors are applying to, and in turn, affected the acceptance rates for many schools across the nation. According to The Washington Post, Columbia University saw a staggering 51 percent increase in applications which caused their acceptance rate to fall from 6.1 percent to merely 3.7 percent this year. The unpredictability of the pandemic and test-optional alternative has arguably made this year the most difficult college admissions cycle yet (The Washington Post). 

While the decision to apply test-optional may have been a difficult decision to make, it may have actually helped other students apply to a school that they loved without the prospect of sending in test scores in a typical year that would have deterred them. 

Daniel Pollack (‘21), who will be attending NYU Stern, reflects, “I think the opportunity to not send test scores or to send them with less influence on your acceptance into each school has really expanded my list of options. I definitely wouldn’t have applied to NYU if it wasn’t for the more test-blind approach this year.” 

College decisions have many seniors excited about their school, but many also received rejection letters that may have been disappointing. Taking some time to acknowledge how you feel and rewarding yourself credit for your successes is important. Through the uncertainty in the pandemic and college admissions process, finding some balance and enjoying the rest of this school year is key.