COVID-19 Changes the College Process for Juniors

A few weeks after the third trimester began at SHP, students and teachers were struck
with the never-seen-before reality of virtual learning. Besides online colleges, very few schools
had had experience operating solely in an online format. Additionally, COVID-19 has thrown a
curveball into a particular group of students’ lives: the 2019-2020 juniors.
It has commonly been said that the junior year of high school is the most difficult and
challenging for the students. The impending reality of college adds a weighty dimension to this
tough academic year. The college search includes traveling to visit colleges, attending in-house
college visits during the school day, attending SHP College Information Nights and SHP
evening college rep events. In addition to researching the many colleges, the juniors have to
prepare for their upcoming ACT and SAT exams. However, with the Coronavirus’ rapid spread
and its accompanying potential health dangers, many facilities decided to cancel the SATs
scheduled for March 14. On March 13, literally the day before the March SAT was to be held at
SHP, College Board informed all test takers that the SAT had been canceled at numerous sites,
unfortunately including the test location of Seton Hall Prep.
Some testing sites were able to run their March SAT, however, due to recently updated
security requirements at College Board, students with cancelled tests were not allowed to
transfer their test ticket to one of the open sites. The reason for this being that all test changes
have to be made a week in advance. But a week earlier, on March 6, no one imagined the
havoc that COVID-19 would cause. Many juniors nationwide were slated to take the March
SAT. Many had spent countless hours preparing, either on their own, through Kahn Academy
or even with an independent test prep facility. All of that time invested in getting into top mental
fitness, to have their “marathon” postponed ….
Juniors then rebounded from the March disappointment and raced to register for a seat
in the upcoming May and June SAT exams. The students hoped that despite the 2 or 3 month
delay, that they would retain some of the test prep that they had gained. However, in almost
rapid fire succession, College Board decided to additionally cancel its May and June SATs.
Now the juniors had to face the reality that it would be quite some time until they would be able
to take their long-awaited SAT.
College Board is slated to launch its 2020 testing series this fall. Stemming from the
COVID-cancelled exams, College Board has added an additional test date for Saturday,
September 26 (no Subject Testing available). Registration for that test will open in May. At that
point, students who had been registered for the June exam will be able to transfer their seat to
a 2020-2021 test. The 2020 SAT will be held on August 29, September 26, October 3,
November 7 and December 5.
As colleges and universities sat on the side-lines and watched COVID unroll, they were
drawing up plans on how to proceed for the next year. Seeing how many students were unable
to take the SAT, they needed to come up with a way to handle this “unique” Class of 2021. A
number of colleges have decided to go test-optional for the high school class of 2021. Whether
that will help the students gain admittance to their top schools will remain to be seen.
Without the benefit of having a standard test (SAT or ACT) by which to compare the students,

Colleges will need to rely more heavily on the students’ high school transcript, college essays
and interviews.
The Coronavirus has brought forth yet another change in the college process. As
colleges and universities closed their doors and sent their enrolled students home, those closed
doors ultimately also kept new students out. Beginning this spring, students have been unable
to visit their colleges of interest. The timing was most unfortunate because many SHP juniors
take advantage of the extended Easter break to visit schools with their families. In response to
this new reality, many colleges are offering virtual visits, virtual information sessions, and many
more virtual opportunities to gain information about their colleges. I don’t feel that virtual visits
can take the place of actually seeing the campuses, speaking with the students and walking
around nearby towns. But for now, it will have to do.