The World of College Admissions in a Global Pandemic

Stacey Kaliabakos ’23

Features Editor

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has impacted basically every aspect of the already grueling and difficult college application process for high school seniors and their parents. Visiting college campuses in person, which is typically a critical step for young people to accurately assess potential fit, has become nearly impossible due to the wide range of quarantine regulations between states. Standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and AP classes have become optional at many four-year colleges and universities (at least for this academic year and perhaps even into the future). Huge numbers of students who were admitted to colleges this year have deferred their enrollment, choosing to take a gap year and raising questions among applicants for next year’s class about whether the availability of seats will be tighter. And, even then, there’s the issue of affordability, especially for families under escalating financial strain due to the COVID-19 crisis.

As a member of College of the Holy Cross’ Admission Outreach program, I have been able to witness firsthand the efforts the school is making during these daunting times for college applicants. Although we are unable to introduce high school juniors and seniors to campus as usual, there are a variety of options these students can participate in to familiarize themselves with life and academics on the Hill. Firstly, Holy Cross students in Admission Outreach are joining Admission Counselors on virtual Zoom high school visits all throughout this fall. Being in a small Zoom call with current Holy Cross students and an Admission Counselor has allowed high schoolers to ask more pertinent and personal questions without fear of judgement from a large crowd of prospective students. Additionally, high schoolers still have the option of shadowing a Holy Cross student, attending online classes with them. Live online chats throughout the semester, virtual open houses, virtual student-led campus tours, and virtual info-sessions are also available to inquiring students interested in applying to Holy Cross. 

Graphic by Hui Li ’21. Photo of O’Kane Hall Sign Taken by Hui Li in 2018.

Since Holy Cross has been test optional for over a decade, it is important for applicants to know that standardized tests are only a small factor in the overall holistic admissions process the college prides itself on. Additionally, because everyone has been impacted by remote learning this year, Holy Cross Admissions has said that no one’s applications will be affected by “changes in learning and grading that have been out of their control,” according to the Admissions website. Finally, recognizing that many families have been struck with financial hardship due to the pandemic, Holy Cross is still entirely committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for incoming students.

With all the pain, suffering, and loss that the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed upon the world, it has also provided a unique opportunity for students to gain a new perspective of what matters to them most as they contemplate their futures and how a higher education might ultimately further their goals. 

For those interested in finding out more about what Admissions at Holy Cross has to offer, please visit https://www.holycross.edu/admissions-aid/visit.

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