I write to you as a humble fellow who works in college counseling as a private consultant to college bound high schoolers and their families. If you are reading this you are a current client, a past client, a neighbor, or friend with college bound or nearly college-bound teens. Whatever the case, in light of the Covid-19 crisis, I thought I'd share some information with you as it presently pertains to college admissions matters. If you have no interest in this topic, please read no further. I'll never know if you trash it.
ACT and SAT and AP
As many of you are already aware, due to the Covid-19 pandemic ACT and SAT standardized testing dates have been cancelled for March, April, and May of 2020. Additionally, some of the few schools that required or recommended SAT Subject Tests have changed the requirement / recommendation for this fall application season (thank you MIT). And, bittersweet that it may be, spring 2020 AP tests have been rescheduled and rejiggered to a 45 minute non-multiple choice on-line test. Your high school and the College Board will be, and likely have been, in touch with you on this, I am sure.
Schools Going Test Optional
Nobody truly knows if the June and July ACT and SAT tests will be held, though they are still on the books. Things are changing every day as we move through this chaotic period. In this vein, some colleges and universities are beginning to go test-optional because they realize that requiring tests of their applicants in these trying times is simply not feasible and, in some cases, not even possible. A handful of the schools that have made the switch include Scripps, Oregon State, University of Oregon, Tufts, University of Toledo, and Case Western University. Indiana University announced last December that it is going test-optional effective this upcoming application cycle. It is true that some schools were already considering this move, but the virus certainly played a part in spurring them to make the call now. There will be more to come. I say bravo.
...But Maybe Not Yours: Sign Up For Tests Now!
While this is wonderful news, not all schools are jumping on the test-optional band wagon. Unless you are 100% sure that you will only be applying to schools that are test optional, I recommend that you take an ACT or SAT as soon as you can. If you know that you will want to take multiple tests this summer, you should sign up for those test dates sooner than later. Many test centers for June and July are already filled and many students will have to drive hours to find an open test center. Be assured: I know they will rapidly fill for September and beyond once the 2020-21 test dates are released this summer. That is unless the ACT and the SAT finally go out of business!
The Definitive List of Test-Optional Schools
To find out what colleges and universities desire as it relates to testing requirements, visit their web sites or contact their admissions offices. To see a list of schools that are test-optional, I suggest connecting to the Fair Test web site. Fair Test works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and its list of schools that are doing away with test requirements grows every week.
https://www.fairtest.org Click on See the Searchable Database of Schools on the right side of the screen.
A Movie Suggestion
While you are tucked away in your houses these days, I might recommend watching the movie "The Test and The Art of Thinking". It is a close examination of standardized testing in America and the controversy surrounding its use as a tool in the college admissions process. A revealing film about an oftentimes frustrating endeavor for teens and families.
Visiting Colleges This Spring and Summer: Virtual Visits and College Admissions Events
A handy link to some helpful web sites and lists during this Covid-19 crisis is here (below) as well. It provides up to date virtual visit information for hundreds of schools as well as updates at a national level on how Covid-19 is affecting colleges and universities' admissions events and deposit dates. Hundreds of schools have already moved their May 1 Decision Day to June 1. We could very well see application dates change for rising seniors.
Some Webinars that are Timely: ACT was Cancelled and Remote Learning Below is an announcement from Jed Applerouth of Applerouth Tutoring Services, a test prep company based in Atlanta. While the company is, indeed, a for profit business, they do wonderful free webinars regarding all things test-related. Jed is an accomplished researcher and test expert with a friendly approachable style. There is never any obligation or pressure to sign up for his company's tutoring services when you are registering for and attending his web presentations. His latest webinars on What To Do if your SAT or ACT Was Cancelled and Study Skills for Remote Learning might be useful. I have attended Applerouth webinars and they are always spot-on. Jed and his team are extremely up-to-date with their analysis and thorough dissections of the most recent ACT and SAT test sittings and up-coming policy initiatives that pertain to college admission testing. It can be truly helpful stuff presented by knowledgeable people. (I do not know Jed or any of his employees, nor do I have a commercial interest in his company. He has not asked me to forward this information to you.)
Timely Article in Forbes
Finally, for an interesting article on "How to Pick a College During a Global Pandemic" by Forbes college admissions writer Brennan Barnard, click here: Pick a College During Pandemic. Okay, maybe a bit of a downer of a title, but it is some thoughtful and reflective stuff.
Stay safe my friends. See you in person eventually.
J. Tracy Mehr