FAQ: Applying for College in a Pandemic

Posted by Neal Schwartz on October 19, 2020

keep calm

In the heat of application season, college applicants are not just finishing up their applications, but some are starting to question their original paths. With the uncertainty brought about by test cancellations and college budget cuts, just to name a few of the challenges, students and their families are faced with unprecedented decisions to make. The New York Times recently published an interview with college admissions expert, Jeffrey Selingo, who offers some advice on how the pandemic will shape student and parent decision-making. Here are some important questions to consider.

Is Early Decision still a good idea?

Early Decision is a binding choice in which a student applies at an earlier deadline to a college, and on the condition that they are accepted, must attend. Many students opt for this choice to show their dedication to the school and boost their demonstrated interest, increasing their odds of acceptance. Early Decision is for students that are completely sure of their choice, and those who can fulfill the financial commitment. However, with campus tours cancelled and college admissions representatives no longer visiting high schools, students might have a much more difficult time deciding their top choice. The odds might be better, considering that colleges want to avoid too much of a dip in enrollment, but that doesn’t mean that it’s certain.

Will students who defer have a harder time in fall of 2021?

With deferrals of many of the incoming freshman class of 2020, the expected classes of 2021 are expected to be larger, and therefore have more competition. However, with an enrollment drop of 2.5% across colleges this year, they will try their best to keep their enrollment as stable as possible in coming years. So this shouldn’t necessarily be a big issue.

What are the most important things to focus on in the application?

Because test scores have been compromised for many students, and with others unable to select a superscore because they’ve only taken the SAT or ACT once, many colleges are becoming more understanding, developing test-optional policies. While good test scores will only boost an applicant’s chances, admissions officers will be making more decisions based on other application elements, such as the essay, recommendation letters and supplements. This has been an exceptional time in history, and colleges must be able to spot the right-fit students through different methods than before.

While the college application process is changing before our eyes, it’s important to remember that colleges must also adapt, just as students. So while the future of college is unclear, and a student’s individual college plans may radically change, keeping calm, flexible and seeking advice from the right sources is key.

In these trying times, having an extra hand on the college application process could help put students in the best position for admission at their top schools. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation today!

Best Regards, 

Neal Schwartz, Owner

College Planning of Westchester



Now in our 16th Year

Neal 2019 - book a time

Now registering for our:

college counseling program and SAT/ACT test prep programs


Special Summer-End Offer:

Learn More and Sign Up




Topics: College Essays, College Applications, High school Activities, college admissions, supplemental essays, distance learning, college counseling, commonapp, high school senior, college freshman year, fafsa


Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all

Contact us: