College Admission Expectations during COVID
The COVID pandemic has shifted the college admission expectations for the graduating class of 2021 and 2022. As the direct result of shelter in place, many SAT dates have been canceled, club activities are limited to online participation, and in-person volunteer opportunities are scarce. A recent survey of over 100 university Deans has suggested the following extra-curricular and volunteer expectations of high school students applying during the Fall, 2020 and the Fall, 2021 application seasons.
Less club and other traditional school activities is expected as a result of the online learning format since March, 2020. Any club or school activity is limited to online participation, which makes it rather difficult to have active club activities if any. Expectations has shifted toward family responsibilities such as helping to take care or tutor a sibling. There is also a shift in volunteer work. Less traditional volunteer work such as at the local homeless shelter or local library is expected; direct involvement in volunteer related to the COVID pandemic such as raising PPE supplies or money for those affected by the pandemic is now the new norm. Indirect COVID-related activities are also expected such as being part of the social justice movement for African Americans and other minorities.
Online Volunteer Opportunties
Many students are unable to find in-person volunteer work. However, there are many online opportunities that are available. Prior to the pandemic, many competitive students would accumulate 300+ hours of volunteer by the time they apply to college (on average, this would be 100 hours per year from grade 9 to grade 11. Below is a short list of web sites that provide online volunteer opportunities:
The United Nations has a variety of volunteer activities including those associated with research, writing, design, and tech support for countries throughout the world. Opportunities range from one to two or more weeks. Many of these volunteer opportunities require highly specialized skills. This is an excellent opportunity for a variety of majors.
This volunteer opportunity vary from one hour to a few hours per week, and include tasks such as writing thank you letters of editing photos.
Simple volunteer tasks such as transcribing historical documents are available at the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers, which is excellent for English majors and other humanities majors.
Amnesty International has a variety of social justice opportunities including verifying oil spills, finding evidence of drone strikes, and searching for abusive tweets related to female politicians in India. This is excellent for social science majors such as political science.
For those fluent in more than one language, check out this nonprofit that combines language skills with humanitarian aid. Volunteers provide translations (10 million words a year!) to international organizations that focus on crisis relief, health and education.
This opportunity is designed for anyone 18 years or older to provide phone support to those in crisis. A four-hour commitment is required each work. This is great for social science and humanities majors such as psychological and social work.
This platform helps people-powered research. Volunteers will help with tasks such as identifying endangered animals, classifying galaxy systems, and transcribing manuscripts.
The goal of Project Gutenberg is to create the largest digital library. Volunteers can help by donating books, transcribing books, and proofreading.
This platform has a variety of online campaigns to solve real-world problems such as creating masks during this pandemic for others.
Many exam dates have been canceled since March, 2020, which is why all universities made the SAT/ACT optional during the Fall, 2020 application period, and is expected to do so for the Fall, 2021 application period including the UC. Some universities cited that SAT/ACT scores are still being used for scholarship considerations, therefore, it is strongly encourage that students continue to prepare and to take either of these exams. Universities will take either the SAT or ACT. I recommend high school students to take either of these exams up to three times because many universities will super score – taking the highest sub-section from each exam date. The UC will eventually phase out the SAT/ACT by the Fall, 2022 application season as a result of a recent court ruling that deemed standardized tests are indirectly discriminates against students from less well-to-do parents who cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars for SAT/ACT test prep programs. Nevertheless, I would encourage students to continue to take the SAT/ACT because it is expected that most non-UC campuses will reimplement this requirement by the Fall, 2022 application season, if not, by the Fall, 2021 season.
Additional application guidelines including timeline can be found at https://bayareacollegeconsulting.com/high-school-junior-timeline-for-college-application/. This blog will go into details about other strategies to be a competitive applicant including having the necessary leadership background to stand out from the crowd and basic information on creating a university list during the junior year.