The college admissions process and academic year for high school students have been significantly disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s imperative for students to remain on track with everything from SAT and ACT prep to building strong college lists.
In this post, we break down some of the challenges caused by the public health crisis and strategies for dealing with them.
However, so many aspects of students’ high school education and the college admissions process have been upended that families should consider connecting with Bulldog Tutors for professional assistance.
Our offices are closed but our expert tutors are able to work smoothly and effectively with students via Zoom.
“It’s more important than it ever has been to make sure all the pieces are in place, and because so much has been disrupted, there aren’t one-size-fits-all answers for students,” says Jessica Magro, Bulldog Tutors’ Director of College Consulting.
SAT, ACT College Admissions Test Adjustments
The coronavirus outbreak canceled the SAT scheduled for May, but hasn’t canceled the June test date. (Connect with the College Board’s SAT Coronavirus Updates page for the latest information.)
The ACT scheduled for April has been postponed to June.
Students who have completed test prep for the April ACT or May SAT should register to take their test in June in order to capitalize on the benefits of the prep.
The postponements are a blessing in disguise for those who got a late start in prepping for the April or May test dates, providing additional time to prep after choosing a future test date.
To Take or Not to Take Subject Tests in June
Those who hadn’t begun prepping to take the SAT or ACT this spring should still think about taking SAT subject tests in June. (See our spring college admissions agenda post for details about the importance of subject tests for admission to top-tier schools.)
However, whether to take subject tests administered in math, science, English, history, and languages deserves careful consideration.
Accepted wisdom says students will score highest when taking the tests almost immediately after completing course work in those subjects because the content will be fresh in their brain. That means taking subject tests at the end of sophomore year for most students.
However, there are several factors that might combine to make it advisable to wait until the end of junior year to take the tests:
- The distance learning most schools have adopted amid coronavirus closures is less intense, and potentially less effective, than in-school learning.
- Unlike AP tests, where the content is being adjusted to take the coronavirus impact into account, the content of subject tests is not changing.
- Even when schools operate normally, students who have not prepped well enough shouldn’t take subject tests.
Taking a Bulldog Tutors Diagnostic Test Is More Important Than Ever
Public, private, and parochial middle schools and high schools in Connecticut are approaching distance learning in different ways, and with different levels of intensity.
In all cases, the experience simply will not be as rigorous or as in-depth as traditional classroom learning and assignments.
Add in the fact that some students don’t do well without the benefit of a classroom lecture and one-on-one access to teachers and you have the potential for students to fall behind in subjects.
Two priorities emerge from the new status quo:
- Students may have greater need for subject tutoring, and even students who never needed tutoring in the past may need help with academic subjects to stay on track for their preferred college admissions.
- Taking Bulldog Tutor’s diagnostic tests to gauge readiness for the SAT, ACT and SAT subject tests is even more of a priority now.
College Visits Aren’t Possible, So Building a College List is Tougher
In a post earlier this year, we advised students to use spring break as an opportunity to visit colleges, and whenever possible to visit colleges and universities when classes were in session.
That’s no longer possible this semester, which creates another challenge. Building a solid college list—schools that have the right programs, are the right size, fit your personality, and will likely accept you—can be challenging under normal circumstances. It’s more difficult now without the benefit of a visit to determine how well reality matches reputation.
“It’s really difficult to get a sense of those intangibles,” says Jessica, who was accepted by all five Ivy League schools to which she applied and attended Yale.
Perfecting the college list in conjunction with Bulldog Tutors is something juniors now have more time than usual to address, which will allow them to head into the summer with a great list when college applications season opens.
The ‘Secret Upside’ and the Bottom Line
More time to focus on subject studies, test prep, and steps in the college admissions process is the “secret upside” for students isolated at home who are not having entire days and evenings consumed by classes and homework.