Inspired Learning
Navigating the College Admissions Process During a Pandemic

By Heidi Schiessler, Assistant Head of School and College Advisor

Zoom, breakout rooms, screen fatigue, social distancing, face covers, hybrid-learning schedules—this is just a sampling of new terms and situations that became all too common last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The world has changed dramatically as a result of COVID-19; not surprisingly, the college admissions process has changed as well. Many college campuses were devoid of students for much or all of the 2020-2021 academic year. On-campus college tours for prospective students were replaced by virtual events. In many cases, SAT and ACT entrance exams were canceled and, as a result, did not factor into college acceptances. 

Uncertainty in the college admissions process led to higher numbers of applications submitted to colleges than in the past. Highly selective colleges saw a double-digit percentage increase in the number of applications; UCLA led the way with an astounding 168,000 applications received—a 24.6 % increase from the previous year.

What does the changing landscape of college admissions mean for the Class of 2022? While the application process remains much the same, some parts of the admissions process are still evolving as the pandemic continues to impact it.  Following are recommendations to help you have a successful college admissions experience: 

  • The SAT and ACT are now back on track and being offered; however, they can be difficult to schedule. Sign up as soon as you can! Contact me if you’d like to better understand the differences between each test, and to help you decide if you should take the SAT, ACT, or both.
  • For colleges that are test-optional, a good score might help your chances of being admitted.  Remember, you control your scores and don't have to submit them to colleges unless you choose to do so.
  • Complete your Letter of Recommendation Preparation document with as much information about yourself as possible. This will help your teachers who are writing on your behalf to represent you in the best possible light.
  • Polish your personal statement so that it provides a very clear, thoughtful, authentic picture of you.
  • If college visits and tours are restricted due to a school’s COVID-19 protocols, view the enhanced virtual tours on their websites.   
  • Reach out to Mid-Pen alums at your colleges of interest so you can get their impressions and observations about the schools. I can help connect you with Dragon alums once you’re ready to speak with them.
  • Plan ahead! Don’t wait until the due date to complete and turn in your college application.
  • Ensure that you explore and apply to a balanced number of reach colleges, target colleges, and safety colleges.

I look forward to partnering with our senior Dragons in these months to support their plans for life after Mid-Pen.

  • college advising