College Admissions in the Time of COVID-19
Talking About What Happens Next
When we started off our spring semester, we were prepared for one like any other. Our first-year students were getting ready to go off on their Journeys trips, the College was getting ready for big events like our Alumnae Weekend and Commencement, and our office was getting ready for our spring admitted student events. At the time, none of us had ever heard the term “social distancing,” we weren’t a college that had a lot of remote learning options, and the whispers about this new virus weren’t really hitting a concerning point.
Fast-forward to now, May 2020, and we are all living in a new normal (although that may be strange to say, because nothing about these circumstances is normal). This isn’t news to anyone reading this- everything has changed as a result of COVID-19 and how it has affected the globe. We know everyone has scrambled to adjust to this new status quo, and we’ve done the same. From postponing Journeys trips to remote learning, we’ve been focusing on making sure we’re supporting our student body and campus community while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
From the prospective student side, we are working hard to give as many options to the Class of 2024 as possible. We moved our enrollment deadline from May 1 to June 1 to give students more time to figure things out. We also extended our application deadline to allow students whose plans might have changed a little more time to figure things out and extended our deferment/gap year deadline to July 1.
Like many offices, we’ve moved primarily to a virtual format- there are now weekly virtual visits with current students and admissions staff, weekly chats with professors, and the chance to sign up for interviews and informal chats with admissions, current students, and other offices on campus, in addition to large-scale virtual events.
Personally, it’s been a very strange transition for those of us who work as admission counselors. In a job where the thing I value most are the relationships I get to build with our current and prospective students, it is difficult to remove the in-person aspect of the relationship. It’s been extremely difficult for me to not be able to cheer for our senior student ambassadors as they finish their last tour, to not see the first-year students return from Journeys trips transformed, and to not be able to celebrate our seniors during Commencement. I know our high school seniors are also mourning similar losses.
So here’s my one piece of advice to seniors in high school and college (and to everyone else): go ahead and mourn. Even though it may seem trivial, it’s not. You’re allowed to be sad that your graduation was cancelled or postponed. You’re allowed to be upset about missing out on things. Conversely, you are also allowed to celebrate- celebrate deciding on your next steps, celebrate getting a job, celebrate making it through your finals. If you needed permission to do either of those things, here it is.
Stay safe, stay well, and stay hopeful. We’re truly having to engage the intellectual and social challenges of our times, but that’s what Scotties are made for.
Rachel West is the Associate Director of Admission at Agnes Scott College and has been a Scottie since 2014. Since entering self-isolation and working from home, she has been playing a ridiculous amount of Animal Crossing, watching musicals on repeat, and playing with her two kittens, Merry and Pippin.