The Impact of COVID-19 on Our High School Juniors and Seniors

Doing College The-Impact-of-COVID-19-800

By Elizabeth LaScala, PhD

Without a doubt, your life has been already impacted by the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Social distancing, self-quarantine, voluntary or mandatory school and business closures clearly show we are not doing ‘business as usual’ in any shape or form.  I have done my best to assemble the timeliest information possible so I could offer substantive advice to you. This is the latest information I have assembled as of today, March 25, 2020.


Standardized Testing: The College Board has canceled the SAT scheduled for May 2, 2020. All make up tests dates for March have also been canceled. For the most current College Board information click here.

ACT has rescheduled the ACT April 4 exam to June 13. Further updates are available here.

For students who had prepared or have been preparing for these tests for weeks or months, this decision, though necessary for public safety, was disappointing. At the same time, the delays don’t mean that the work you have been putting in will be for naught or that you won’t be ready to apply for college come fall. Here’s the key: if you’re going to have a long break between the end of your prep and your official test, you need to take one or two practice tests and make time to review content the month leading up to your official test administration. If you engage in more deliberate, consistent practice between now and when test is offered, the break can actually be an opportunity to achieve a higher score.

Summer School Courses: An informal survey of both community colleges and state universities revealed that most institutions are deploying distance learning options for summer classes.  Concrete decisions about how courses involving hands-on lab work will be conducted have not been made, with decisions forecasted to come in by May, at the earliest.

Summer Programs: Students who plan to attend a summer program should visit the program’s website for the most up to date information on program status, availability of refunds, and so on.

2020 – 2021 College Applications: Currently, it appears that most colleges and universities plan to accept applications per their individually designated fall 2020 and winter 2021 schedules (Early Application, Early Decision, Regular Decision application deadlines). These schedules may change, depending on a wide variety factors well beyond our control now.

College Visits: I know I stress visiting college campuses for juniors in high school and this recommendation has not changed, but the timing has. Hopefully the opportunity to visit campuses will reemerge in the summer and fall. For now, research your college list, and visit your favorite colleges’ websites. Take virtual tours, write to undergraduate admissions representatives and get on college mailing lists, open and read the mail you receive, ask intelligent questions not easily answered on the college website, check the college’s LinkedIn page to see if you can connect with current students to learn more about the school and so on. In other words, demonstrate interest in the many ways that do not involve leaving your home.



AP Exam Administration: On March 20, College Board announced that traditional AP exams will not be administered; instead, students will take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home. For each AP subject, there is supposed to be two exam dates offered so you can choose to take the test when the material is freshest in your mind or take additional time to study. The full exam schedule will be available on April 3rd.

According to College Board portfolio submission deadline extensions for AP 2-D Art and Design, 3-D Art and Design, Computer Science Principles, Drawing, Research and Seminar courses will be announced shortly.


Transcripts: Due to high school closures some students may find it difficult to obtain transcripts in a timely manner and it appears most colleges and universities will be accepting late documents on a case-by-case basis.

Registration/Orientation: Given the volatility of the current situation, colleges and universities nationwide are reluctant to say much about how business will be conducted regarding the 2020-2021 school year. The suggested course of action that I am reading most often is to adhere to the school’s current guidelines, submitting all deposits and housing requests in a timely manner. As the pandemic unfolds and its trajectory becomes clearer, schools will undoubtedly reevaluate and adjust deadlines and other policies as necessary. Visit the websites of the schools you plan to send applications for updates.

College Selection: Many seniors must select the school they will attend in the fall without the benefit of revisiting the campus or, in some cases, without having visited at all. This is a very difficult topic to address because one size does not fit all, and I am painfully aware of the fact that this is one of the most important decisions of your life. Just as I made recommendations for juniors above under this heading, I offer the same advice to seniors. In addition, if you are torn between two or more schools, try going back to the list of factors that were most important to you when you first constructed your college list to help you to decide what college might be the best fit for you now.

May 1 National Decision Deadline: As the COVID-19 disrupts the admissions process, a growing number of institutions are giving students more time to decide. But others are holding fast to May 1. Check your colleges’ websites for more information. Once you make your decision, monitor incoming emails from the school for the most up to date information and instructions.

Independent Education Consultants (IECs): For the most part, we educational consultants are working and available by phone, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime. Reach out to us with your questions or concerns.

As we go through these challenging times, I firmly believe we will emerge stronger and better as a country and as individuals.  The good news is that technology has made it so much easier to stay in touch. You are not alone. Be strong, be safe and stay well.