by Jenna Bloom ’21
While the typical (non-pandemic) college application process is filled with tours, in-person interviews, and being able to talk to your counselors and teachers at any time of the school day, it’s quite obvious that this year looks … a little different. Seniors this year are facing an entirely new experience, which involves deciding from our bedrooms where we want to spend the next four years of our lives. The excitement of visiting campuses has been replaced with Zoom virtual tours and info sessions, which make it extremely difficult to gauge the culture and “vibe” of a campus. ACTs and SATs were canceled and postponed everywhere, so most schools have transitioned to a test-optional approach.
What does this mean for us, though? As a senior who is in the midst of the process, it’s definitely interesting. The biggest advice I was given is to engage in as many one-on-one conversations with either admissions officers or current students as possible. Admissions officers are there to help you, and they understand how weird and confusing this is. Reaching out to my admissions officer for Northeastern, for example, led to an hour-long conversation on the phone where she was truly able to tell me her favorite parts of campus and she could answer all of my questions. While nothing beats being able to walk around in person, this brought some life to the otherwise dull info sessions. The second thing that I have found very helpful: YouTube videos. Especially those from current students where they do Q&A’s, Day in the Life’s, Campus Tours, etc. These also show more of the school’s overall atmosphere and what life will be like as a student.
Another huge factor that has played a role in my application process is how the schools are currently handling Covid. For example, NYU went viral on TikTok for its awful quarantine meals and poor management of student wellbeing, so that immediately got booted from my list. How schools treat their students is vital, and Covid has really highlighted that.
While the convenience of being able to go into the Counseling Office during lunch has been taken away, the Sherwood counselors have done an excellent job of showing students that they care about helping us through this process. Overall, it definitely hasn’t been easy. The stress of online school, plus writing numerous essays and supplementals, has been challenging and exhausting. But, with a good support system and utilizing your resources, it can be done. Everyone has gotten things taken away because of Covid, and while fully online research for a college isn’t ideal, it is what it is and the Class of 2021 is in it together.