How COVID-19 Affected the College Application Process

Avery Thornburgh, Co-Feature Editor

9th February, 2021

During this time of year, many seniors are actively applying for college. This is the moment that all four years of high school have led up to. For some, it can be a very exciting time. Some students have had high achieving dream schools that they’ve been working hard for throughout high school to get accepted with a pre-planned out major. For others, this time can make them feel lost, with the idea of their future feeling very overwhelming. Either way, for many, applying to colleges is the next important step in our future as graduating high school seniors. 

This year is different, however, as the country is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has made thinking about our future harder than ever. Even the class of 2020’s college plans have been affected, with many currently still living at home and attending their college classes online. But for the class of 2021, trying to apply to college with the uncertainty of this pandemic in the future is challenging. With vaccinations taking place across the country, things can start to look better, but we still have no clue when the world will go back to normal. Even with the pandemic starting to end, it is unknown  how our country will be affected by the aftermath of COVID. The class of 2021 will have to take this into account when thinking about their future after high school, and trying to apply to colleges. 

The Common Application gives a statement to students regarding Coronavirus on it’s login page, providing an email for students to contact them at. (Graphic Credit: Avery Thornburgh)

For senior Cheyenne Wilson, she has two different plans for after highschool. “I really want to go to Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz, and I have for a very long time. But my parents want me to stay home next year and attend College of the Redwoods because of COVID.” She has been talking about and debating her options with her parents for a while now. They think that having her stay here in Humboldt would be safer, and save them more money. In the time being, they want her to get a job to start saving up if she is trying to move to Santa Cruz next fall. “My brother went to the same college to play basketball. I’ve always loved Santa Cruz; it’s almost like Humboldt, but much better!” Wilson is looking forward to applying to community colleges in March and studying to become a nutritionist. 

On the other hand, senior Maya Scanlon finished up all of her 16 college applications that she started in August. Scanlon plans to go into college as a molecular biology major. After completing her undergraduate, she wants to take a gap year to travel and work for different research facilities. She also later hopes to go to medical school. 

“I want to become a molecular pathologist, and I’m interested in doing cancer research,” she stated. Because of COVID, Scanlon has considered putting this all to the side and taking a gap year in the fall of 2021. 

“I would like to do something with wildlife conservation if I take a gap year. Maybe in the Philippines! But I would probably stay here and work in the fall to work and save up to do that.” Although she is looking forward to college and has already been accepted into five schools, this pandemic is definitely an important factor in her future. 

“This pandemic has given me insight that I can take a break and do what I want, especially since I don’t want to go to college during Covid times,” she explained. 

Some colleges have noted the impact this pandemic has had for the class of 2021, and are trying to accommodate for it. Three of the ten University of California schools- UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, and UC Merced- even extended their application deadline from December 5 till December 15. I was personally planning on applying to a few UC’s, but as the applications opened, I honestly had lost all motivation to start them. Being halfway through my senior year online, I’ve had a long time to think about what is ahead in my future. The possibilities of schools, and especially universities, opening up by this  fall may be slim. The thought of spending my freshman year of college online is something that I, and I’m sure many others do not want to do. It’s even worse thinking about how much money I would be paying a university for online classes I would probably be taking at home. I received a text message from UC Santa Cruz informing me about their application deadline extension because I had partly already filled out the application. It reads, “We know it’s been *a year*, so we’ve extended our application deadline to Dec. 15 at 11:59pm PT to better support you.” It’s surprising to hear that University of California schools have even thought about extending any sort of deadline for applications, when deadlines seem to be very firm for college applications.  Although these may not be the most popular of the UC’s, I think it is still a very nice gesture of them.

As seniors, we can agree upon similar  feelings of uncertainty as the end of the school year comes up more quickly than we expected. With the end of college application deadlines coming up, I hope that many of us can at least try to relax for this last semester of our senior year. This long pandemic has given us a good amount of time to think about our future. 

This can be hard to think about with COVID still looming, but there is beginning to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We can only hope that our future after Arcata High School will be safe and successful.