March is the month of expectations — expectations of acceptances and rejections in particular. At the same time, it is also a precursor as to where the class of 2022 will be in a year. All that the juniors are getting right now is a Costco sample of the anxiety and stress. But leading up to March 2022? Though all the means lead to the same end, these means are not going to be the same. Without a doubt, college application season is going to have a new look come next fall.
One of the more notable changes is that many more colleges are beginning to adopt a test-optional policy, and then keeping it. At first, a lot of these test-optional — or even test-blind — policies applied to only the class of 2021, but a handful of colleges are extending this window to include the class of 2022 and even beyond. It’s expected that more schools are only going to follow suit. This alone has had its ups and downs and has also left its mark on the 2021 admissions cycle already. Fueled partly by the knowledge that a bad standardized test score can’t hold applicants back, numerous colleges saw the effects in the form of a record-high number of applications. Just to name a few, Harvard faced a 42% increase in regular decision applications this year, the UC system saw its total increase by 18%, and MIT had an astounding 62% increase in early action applications. It’s impossible to be entirely sure, but it’s also likely this pattern will continue into next year.
Retaining motivation in online classes can be incredibly challenging; however, academics are still going to retain their importance. In a statement released in June 2020 by over 300 deans and admission officials, academic work is listed second on their list of six ways in which admissions have changed and will continue to change. That’s not to say students absolutely have to aim for that A+ standard like in a normal school year. Academic performance will be evaluated in the context of any hurdles or impediments, and it’ll also be primarily based on achievements before and after the worst of the pandemic passes.
Furthermore, there is an understanding that extracurricular activities are not as they once were — students will not be at a disadvantage if they can’t continue participating in their activities outside of school. Rather, there will be an emphasis in regards to spending time on other meaningful things such as supporting your family, improving in academia, and self-care — more so than ever, reporting challenges, limitations, etc. on college applications is important.
And yes, self-care; it’s actually the very first item on the list. While college admissions oftentimes appear to be a jumble of stats and essays, the people who read applications also know that these few years are going to be tumultuous. They recognise that students are going through a lot, and thus, both community and family contributions are valued.
CCA is known for its rigour and academic excellence — all the more reason to take a step back. It’s a pandemic after all, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’re just over a month into quarter 3, but if things are feeling overwhelming or aren’t going as planned, that’s okay. There’s still time, so take some time now to just breathe. Class of 2022 — it’s not your time to turn into balls of stress just yet.