As students across the country look ahead to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, they will need to focus on their health and safety first, academics second. If they remain healthy they will benefit also their family members, teachers, friends, school employees and the world at large.
In these unprecedented times, people in general, not just students, are anxious about their health, along with issues of social unrest, financial insecurities, and politics. High school students typically worry about everything college, and especially those dreaded SAT/ACTs standardized tests. No student takes those just for fun, unless, they can retrieve, process, and spit-out information fast and furious. Thus far, the College Board and ETS (Educational Testing Service) have both cancelled the administration of SATs and ACTs for the foreseeable future.
What students can do in the meantime are these three simple exercises: breathe deeply, do nothing for one entire minute, and listen to slow music.
Colleges themselves are struggling to figure out their next steps. Over 300 deans of admission across the U.S. have signed a “Care Counts in Crisis” statement. This means they want to lower the stress added to the process by this pandemic. Their message is that they care about students as people, not just for their grades and scores. This may actually bring the admission process toward a saner and more equitable experience for students.
These admissions professionals have signed an agreement committing to make decisions based on these values: 1. Student care, 2. Academic requirements, 3. Service and contributions to others, 4. What students contribute to the wellness of their family, and 5.
Extracurricular and summer activities (no student will be disadvantaged for “doing nothing” since they have to be sheltering in place).
The University of South Carolina just announced that the high school class of 2021 will not necessarily need standardized tests for admission. They will try to make decisions, for scholarships as well, by examining other parts of each student’s application.
Clemson’s Tim Galbreath, associate director of admissions, says that they are not yet test optional. They still like to see those ACT/SATs. Since their deadline for SAT/ACT scores is not until the end of December 2020, they hope the class of 2021 applicants will be able to take at least one test administration. However, they know students have less options for retesting. Retesting is important if they need to improve a score.
The entire admission process is moving toward a more holistic review of students, even at the large public universities that typically base admission on grade-point-average and standardized scores. We can expect that they will place more weight on the classes students took in high school and recommendations. If a student is on the bubble, a well-crafted college essay may tip the scale in the student’s favor.
I’ll go back to my mantra that no matter their academic achievement, students need to understand what type of learner they are. Then they need to find places where they can grow and develop into resilient young adults.
Claire Law is an independent certified educational planner on Daniel Island.