All is Well
How College-Bound Students Can Still Benefit from COVID Curtailed Extracurricular Activities
today at 8:27 pm
BY SANDRA GUY
Admissions officers are reassuring students nervous that their COVID-limited extracurricular activities that they’re taking into consideration one of the deadliest pandemics in history.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education released a statement in late June 2020 from more than 300 college admissions deans, that sought to ease fears by clarifying what the administrators value in applicants during such uncertain times.
“The deans seek in this document to underscore their commitment to self care, care for others, equity, and meaningful learning,” according to the statement. “They express their commitment when reviewing applications to carefully taking into account the many challenges and obstacles students are currently facing, and they encourage students to share information about these challenges in their applications.”
The deans explicitly said “no student will be disadvantaged for not engaging in extracurricular activities during this time.”
“We have always considered work or family responsibilities as valuable ways of spending one’s time, and this is especially true at this time,” the statement continued. “It is helpful to know, for example, how much time students spent per week taking on a family responsibility, such as taking care of a sick relative. This information will be treated completely confidentially.”
Most schools also have announced they will continue their test-optional policies for at least one more year, meaning that no SAT or ACT scores will be required for admission.
Yet certain common threads remain. A student’s grades and evidence of enrollment in challenging courses in high school still count for a lot in admissions officers’ considerations. Easy course loads in high school usually cannot be outweighed by an over-achieving extracurricular resume, experts say.
Another key is that admissions officers are looking for more than students from diverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status and geographic representation. Colleges and universities also look for diversity in students’ abilities, interests and achievements — and the more specialized and accomplished a student in a specific category, the better.
That’s the result of years of practice, dedication and training, along with innate abilities, that a 15-month pause won’t dent irretrievably.
Families actually must weigh new possibilities entirely: The Biden administration is pushing for free community college education and the country’s biggest online schools stand to benefit greatly from the Pell Grant program, and even moreso if the $30 billion program is expanded.
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