Seniors adjust to changes in the college application process

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Junbo Li

Senior Junbo Li works on his college applications.

Xava Abraham , Staff Writer

Each year, seniors are slammed with stress and anxiety as they head into the season of college applications and standardized tests. This year, it is a little different. More colleges are opting to become test-optional due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Test optional schools in general help students who are not great test-takers, and not all of us are,” explained guidance counselor Maryann Shea. “Just because you do well in school does not necessarily mean you’re a good test taker.”

The college process for seniors has changed due to the fact that they can’t keep taking standardized tests to improve their scores. Some students got the opportunity to take one, but many students did not get that advantage. 

“I took the ACT once and got a score I didn’t like, but [I] didn’t retake [the test] because of COVID,” senior Emma Hsiao explained. 

On the other hand, senior Taj Clachar suggested test optional schools have improved his application process.   

“This helped me. My SAT scores were not strong enough to the point where they reflected my level or where I am at,” Clachar stated. 

 At the beginning of COVID circumstances in March, test centers were altered to ensure safety for all participants, but shortly after they proceeded to close down. 

“The desks were spaced pretty far apart, the window was open, and everyone had masks on. There were only maybe 10 people in my room,” Hsiao stated. “There was hand sanitizer provided and hand-washing was very, very encouraged.” 

Seniors had been studying for these tests all year, and it was unexpected when the test centers closed down.

“It’s hard for students because it’s something they have been focusing on all the way up to this year, and then it’s been a surprise when they register for a test and [it] gets canceled,” Shea added. “It’s not like they haven’t prepared to test, they’ve done all the prep classes and all that.” 

Despite the difficulties students face with canceled test centers, in a way it can be beneficial to their stress levels. 

“This helps me because I’m not too proud of the score I received and having that be an optional thing to provide eases the anxiety a bit,” Hsiao said.   

Senior Junbo Li also discussed the ease of anxiety upon discovering that more schools are becoming test optional. 

“It helps, such as I would use some time on SAT prep, now I can save that time for essays and my course work,” Li stated. “I spent a lot of time on applications, mostly for my essay. Right now I already applied to most of my colleges.” 

Although students put in hard work this year to study for standardized tests, in the end, it is perceived as a weight lifted off students’ shoulders. 

“I do think there’s a little bit of relief for people once they face up to the fact that this isn’t gonna happen and [they] don’t need to do it for [their] schools,” Shea explained. 

While this academic year looks very different than previous times, students have adjusted and made the best out of the difficult situations. 

“I’ll be honest, the process was quite stressful, but I broke things up so that it felt less overwhelming, and I still managed to get things done,” Clachar stated.