As some may know, the landscape of the college applications process has drastically transformed through the years.
School counselor Megan Walton believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected college applications and admissions.
“The pandemic has impacted the college admissions process. Many colleges that used to require the SAT/ACT as part of the admissions process have chosen to go test optional in recent years,” said Walton.
Even though this is true, some schools may still use test scores to determine students’ worthiness of scholarship opportunities.
Many Godwin students have been known to attribute Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia acceptance to essentially a coin flip. Some students get into one and not the other. With that being said, schools being test optional has opened the opportunity to many students with fairly high grades that do not test well.
“The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest) has counted approximately 1,600 schools being test optional for fall 2022 applications,” said Director of School Counseling Nicole Scalea-Hansinger.
To ensure the best opportunity, there is one main thing the collective counsel group here at Godwin has recommended.
“Be diligent and thorough in your research of the schools you wish to apply to. It is important to know which schools are now allowing test optional and if that would be beneficial,” said Scalea-Hansinger.
For Godwin counselor Maryse Eubank, the admissions process has changed a lot from when she was looking at schools to attend.
“On April first of my senior year, my parents informed me that I could not go to the University of San Francisco as planned due to financial reasons. They handed me the giant college handbook that we had purchased for my sister three years before, and I was told to find a Virginia school,” said Eubank.
She found out Radford had rolling admissions and was lucky enough to be accepted.
She thoroughly enjoyed her college experience at the university. Radford is also amongst the long list of schools that have altered its policies.
“Radford University has grown quite a bit and is no longer rolling admissions. It currently is test optional as well,” said Eubank.
Although almost every school has gradually become more challenging to get into, Eubank feels no state schools have gotten easier. When asked about state school changes, Eubank said James Madison University using the common application “increased their application numbers greatly”.
Applying to colleges was certainly different for these counselors “back in their day”.
“When I applied to college, most schools had their own application. Now, many schools are a part of the common application or coalition. These platforms make applying to multiple colleges much easier on students,” said Hansinger.
Walton attended the University of Virginia for her undergraduate studies and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her graduate studies.
“UVA did not offer early action when I applied – only regular decisions and early (binding) decisions,” said Walton.
Amy Gravely, Nicole Scalea-Hansinger and Ros Runner all did their undergraduate studies in Virginia, attending the University of Richmond, Virginia Tech, and William and Mary respectively.
Scalea-Hansinger stayed in state for her graduate program, attending Virginia Commonwealth University. Eubank and Gravely also attended VCU post-grad. Following graduation, Runner attended Mississippi State University and after that, also attended VCU.
Lastly comes Theresa Katz, who attended the State University of New York – Fredonia for her undergraduate degree and the University of Buffalo for her graduate degree.
Getting together, the counseling team answered some questions.
“I think the admission standards for most schools have also increased since I applied. In looking at metrics like GPA and SAT scores for admitted students, they appear to be much higher than they were when I was applying to college,” said the counseling team.
SAT scores and GPA are not the only reasons schools have become more competitive. Many schools have seen an uptick in applications due to the addition of the Common Application and the fact that many students are applying to more schools.
When asked what schools were easiest to get into, the counselors recommended to say “less selective schools”. An example of those schools in Virginia would be Longwood, which has an 87% acceptance rate.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are schools which have become more and more challenging to get into. JMU, for example, told our counseling team they had a 43% increase in applications this year. Virginia Tech also has been more and more challenging to get into.
On the very top of that spectrum is UVA.
“UVA always seems to be the most competitive school in Virginia. It’s rare that you ever see a student be admitted with less than a 4.0 GPA. If you take a closer look on bigfuture.org, it’s easy to understand why, with a reported acceptance rate of just 24%,” said the counseling team.
Another statistic to keep in mind when thinking about this whole process at competitive institutions is that a competitive college is estimated to only spend eight minutes or less reviewing each application.
“Some of the most competitive state schools in terms of admissions tend to be William and Mary, UVA, and the University of Richmond,” said Walton.
Many of the counselors have the same advice when it comes to applying to college.
“In general, my advice to students hasn’t changed. It is still a good idea to take an ACT/SAT test just in case you apply to a school that still requires a score. Also, if you do well, submitting a strong score may help your admissions chances. It is best to work hard and keep all options open,” said Walton.