NBC invited our own Bari Norman to speak with the Today Show about how the college admissions process has changed – or stayed the same – during the pandemic. With deadlines swiftly approaching, Bari offers advice about where students should be in the process, staying organized, presenting your best self to colleges, and of course, financial aid. Keep reading for those tips, and watch the interview or read more at today.com.
Students who are applying Early Decision or Early Action have already submitted their applications that were due by November 1 (hooray!). But there’s still plenty to do for those Regular Decision deadlines. By now students should have finalized the list of schools to which they’re applying. Make sure to be mindful of the deadlines for supplemental materials; deadlines for submitting transcripts, recommendations, and test scores can differ from the admissions deadline, so make sure you know when each school needs them! And remember, test scores – if you’re submitting them this year – may need to be submitted officially through ACT or the College Board.
About those test scores: more than 70% of colleges have gone test-optional this fall. We’ve been talking a lot lately about what “test-optional” means, and the good news is, it really does mean optional. Many students have been unable to test this year, and those students will not be penalized in the admissions process. At the same time, if you can give a school test scores that are within their range or, ideally, at the high end of that range, it can benefit you. If you’ve been able to test but your scores aren’t quite within range, it can even be strategic for you to choose not to submit your scores.
Just as students have been unable to test this year, many have also been unable to participate in their usual extracurricular activities. But there is no “free pass” on extracurriculars. Schools still want to see that you’ve been productive and engaged with your time. Of course, that engagement might not look the same as in previous years. Maybe you’ve creatively continued the same activities you were doing before the pandemic, or maybe you’ve found a new interest you didn’t have a chance to explore until now. Whatever you were able to do, make sure colleges know you stayed interested and interesting!
With your college list finalized, don’t let financial aid become an afterthought. The cost of college can be daunting, and different schools will offer differing financial aid packages. Reach out directly to financial aid officers in order to get a better idea of what you can expect. And remember, it’s important to submit those financial aid forms early because some funding sources are limited. If financial aid is a significant factor in your decision-making, consider skipping Early Decision; if you wait it out through the regular admissions cycle, you can compare offers and won’t be bound by that first acceptance.
While this year has raised many new questions, the bottom line is to stay informed, organized, and engaged. And we’re here to help you do just that! Contact us at Expert Admissions for support as you navigate the admissions process.