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College During Coronavirus

It’s no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has substantially changed the college process from head to toe. Applications, classes, and admissions are all affected. How to go about dealing with that?  Below, find some information on the ways the college process has changed:

Colleges Make a Collective Statement

A collective college admissions deans’ statement, spearheaded by Harvard, was issued in June 2020. In it, the deans listed the following factors they’d value in this admissions round, in order of importance: (1) Self-care, (2) Academic work, (3) Service and contributions to others, (4) Family contributions, (5) Extracurricular and summer activities.


The deans acknowledged that students may be struggling with different types of loss and insecurity during this time whether financial or emotional and reiterated how important it is to evaluate, and, if necessary, adjust your priorities. They emphasized the need to be gentle on yourself when stressed.

Academic Work

Though the deans did clearly state that “your academic engagement and work during this time matters to us,” they also recognized that students face unique obstacles during the pandemic. Accordingly, they will assess your achievements in light of those obstacles. No student will be penalized for the following, due to the pandemic:

  • A change in commitments
  • A change in plans
  • Their school’s decision about transcripts
  • The absence of AP or IB tests
  • Lack of access to standardized tests
  • Inability to visit a campus

And, of course, any students who do these things as expressions of interest and dedication in their selected colleges should report them on their applications, and their actions will be recognized.

Service and contributions to others

The statement first recognizes that some students are not in a position to engage in community service at this time. For students who are, however, the deans state that the pandemic has created unique demands in the fields of tutoring, contact tracing, support for senior citizens, and assistance with food delivery. They consider a response to those demands to be significant ways students can apply themselves during pandemic-induced academic disruption. They also note the value of activities unrelated to the pandemic: registering voters, protecting the environment, combating racial injustice and inequities, and stopping online harassment among peers.

Family contributions

Here, the deans urgently emphasize that if you are taking care of a sick  family member, working to provide your family extra income, or otherwise need to be there in some capacity for your family, you should report it on your application. They anticipate that many students will be in this situation, and they state that it can “only impact your application positively.”

Extracurricular and summer activities

The deans note that they know many plans will have been disrupted by the pandemic, and again emphasize that they consider work and family responsibilities as valuable ways of spending one’s time. They list internship opportunities, summer jobs, camp experience, and classes among the types of engagement that are of interest to them.

In Conclusion

Both the Common Application and the Coalition for College Application will have space for students to describe how the pandemic has affected them. The deans encourage you to be as specific and concrete as possible in relaying the details: the amount of hours you spent taking care of a sick relative, or if your ability to engage with academics and projects was impacted. They stress that this information will be treated confidentially.

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