Your Step by Step Guide to the College Application Process during the Pandemic

Your Step by Step Guide to the College Application Process during the Pandemic

Most people are cursing the little micro-organism which has wreaked havoc in our lives. The spread of Coronavirus has locked us inside our houses. It

Most people are cursing the little micro-organism which has wreaked havoc in our lives. The spread of Coronavirus has locked us inside our houses. It has restricted us by making everything online. From colleges to schools to offices, people are glued to their laptop/tablet screens hoping to learn and grow, from the domains of their homes.

However, all is not lost. Although we may think that the college application process is completely disrupted, it is not. It has only changed. For students, this is the time for lifelong learning. Challenges don’t stop us, they help us grow.

The pandemic has affected admissions in a significant way. There have been MANY changes in the last couple of months and there will be more.

What are these changes?

How does a student cope and learn to work with them?

We’ve got all this and more covered in this article.

If you are a student who is uncertain, unsure and worried about your higher studies, you have come to the right place. We have put together a step by step guide to help you in your college application process.

All you have to do is stay focussed, motivated and read this article right till the last word.

Changes in the Admission Process

1. Online Applications and Courses

Most higher education institutions, including B Schools, have realised that COVID-19 is not a short term problem. With important exams like SAT being cancelled in May and June 2020 and many others being postponed, it has left the admission teams distraught.

The only solution is to shift gears to online applications and courses. From the application filling to the submission and even the fee payment, the entire process has to become technology dependent.

In a recent survey, it was found that 62% of colleges are adding video conferences while approximately 46% are adding social media live events for aspirants. For a student, this can be a boon – reducing travel costs and time spent.

2. Possible Increase in Need-Based Scholarships

Many families have been affected economically as they have lost jobs, and the rate of unemployment has increased. This could lead to students opting out of courses due to lack of financial aid.

Schools are recognising this and they could offer bigger scholarships as well as more need-based aid in order to attract students. Parents will have to provide valid details about the family income for the scholarship applications. Should the student receive an admission letter and prove to be qualified, the possibility of scholarships is better now. Along with that, payment deadlines are also being adjusted.

3. Virtual Visits

Visiting the campus of your chosen school was a regular part of the admission process. With COVID-19 shutting colleges down until the situation improves, admission authorities have found a solution for this too.

Many virtual visits are being hosted by institutions to give aspirants a feel of the campus and keep their enthusiasm up. There are online campus tour guides in many colleges who are conducting Q&As too.

4. More Time to Apply

The uncertainty around when life will return to normalcy is currently very high. In order to help students figure the way forward as well as internally decide on the teaching methodology, institutions have delayed deadlines for applications and payment.

This gives students more time to decide and apply to colleges of their choice.

Coping and Preparing for Admissions – A Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Research, Research and Research

Research forms the roots of your application. If you build a strong foundation, your decision will be informed and well thought out.

It is vital to research on courses offered, changes in structure because of the lockdown, fee, time duration, tests and examinations, resources, teaching methodology and faculty. Only after thorough research will you be able to:

  • Choose which course to take up
  • Define a strong reason behind selecting it
  • Be prepared for what the course will bring with it

Step 2: Online Counselling

Even individuals that are always clear about their goals have doubts and difficulties. Remind yourself that you are not alone if you feel confused. The best way to deal with confusion is counselling.

Speak to trained individuals who will guide you in the right direction. Whether you are at the appropriate stage for higher education, which course suits your grades and interests, which colleges offer your preferred programmes – these are questions a counsellor can help you answer.

The only change during the pandemic is that counselling has gone online too. That makes it easier for you to avail it.

Step 3: Stay Updated

The impact of COVID-19 on college admissions is dynamic, causing changes every single day. The only way to stay abreast of the developments is to read. Newspapers, social media, the internet, podcasts, news channels, etc – the resources are endless.

In the digital world, all it takes to stay updated is the inclination to do so. Read up about the change in rules, structures and policies nationally and internationally. It will help you act fast and be better prepared.

Step 4: Upskill – Use Your Free Time Well

We must accept that we do have a lot more free time on our hands now as compared to the pre-COVID world. All those classes we wanted to take but didn’t – there is no excuse now! A versatile candidate is always preferred over others, so it’s time to use the extra time well.

Many universities and platforms (Eg. Harvard, Google, Coursera, Udemy, etc) are offering free and paid courses in multiple fields.

Whether you like literature, science, robotics, digital marketing, writing, arts, music, or anything else – all you need to do is go online and search for a suitable course. A few hours of commitment and voila! You have a new skill.

Step 5: Avoid Common Application Mistakes

There are many simple errors that are overlooked/committed by students while filling in application forms. Now that everything’s online, a hasty ‘submit’ can be your downfall.

Here is a check-list of common mistakes made by students that you can use before you hit submit.

  • Answer the question asked, not what you would prefer to answer
  • Specify your qualifications in detail, don’t change the grades into a different system unless you are asked to
  • Make sure you appear for all the tests required by the institution. Have all the mark sheets scanned and handy
  • Don’t lie! Those on the admissions team generally come with immense background experience and can see through lies immediately
  • Use a recent, professional photograph of yourself. If you don’t have one, please get it clicked.

Step 6: Be Prepared

While you want to physically go to your dream college, be prepared for eventualities. It will take time for the pandemic to come in control. Until then, courses can be both online and offline.

Being prepared mentally and physically for either will help you stay ahead of the curve. It will also soften the blow, in case there is one.

Even after all the steps, there is always a chance that you don’t get the college you wanted. Don’t lose heart. Remember, the admissions team has an extensive process of selecting students based on how this course can help them. There are a million opportunities out there. All you need to do is go out and grab them!