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How Coronavirus Could Impact College Admissions

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on everyone and every industry. The timing couldn't have been more difficult for the world of college admissions.

Days away from releasing admissions results for Regular Decision, colleges have to readjust their plans not only in terms of who they admit, but how they get students to enroll. I often say that the pressure on admissions deans is like being the captain of a sinking ship. Those who get admitted are safe. But the captain, her crew, and everyone else are at the mercy of those who escape.

This year, the pressure on the admissions dean is unprecedented. That can mean better odds and results for students still awaiting decisions. Here is what to expect no matter where you are in the admissions process.

1. Expect decisions to be released on time.

Colleges don't want to delay decisions as they need every day leading up to the national reply date of May 1st to get as many students to enroll as possible.
 

2. Admitted student programs are being canceled amid fears of the fast-spreading virus.

Colleges will need to get creative about their yield efforts. Admissions officers need to sway admitted students to enroll without returning to campus one last time before their reply is due. 
 

3. With great uncertainty, the waitlist will be in full effect.

Admissions deans cannot take a chance. If students enroll at a lower rate than they were expecting (and I anticipate this happening!), the waitlist will be heavily relied on to reach the target number for the freshman class. Students should accept a spot on the waitlist as soon as possible in order to be on the radar of the admissions staff.

4. Acceptance rates will rise.

This spring was already shaping up to be a circus with colleges experiencing fewer applications than previous years. Even Harvard University is down 8% in applications from last year. What happens to Harvard is likely to happen to many more colleges.

5. Be ready for colleges to aggressively try to convince students to enroll even after they make a decision.

New provisions were initiated after the governing body, NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counselors), was forced to remove regulations by the Justice Department. Get ready for colleges to throw late acceptances, generous merit scholarships, and other incentives to students.
 

6. Campus tours and information sessions are being canceled for prospective students and families of younger grades.

Self-guided tours might be available for visiting families. But demonstrated interest might be waived for the coming year so put your health first.
 

7. ACT and SAT tests sites are being shut down not only abroad but here in the States as well.

While students might need to postpone taking standardized tests for a few months, it gives them time to focus on finals and more time to prepare for the next available test.

Check the status of your SAT Test Center here.



8. Virtual classes are replacing face-to-face in-person classes for high schools and colleges.

There will be an adjustment period not only for students but teachers and faculty as well. It is my hope that school policies are as student-focused as possible.
 
Believe it or not, students are in more control than the colleges. Remember, these colleges are desperate to keep up appearances. I anticipate flexible deadlines, higher acceptance rates, and more generous offers in store. Colleges need you more than you need them.