College Application Struggles During COVID

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Isabel Donner

With COVID-19 complicating and moving so many aspects online, the college application process has been much more challenging for this year’s seniors.

Isabel Donner, Staff Writer

The Coronavirus has drastically altered the college application experience for the class of 2021 as students finalize preparations to move on to the next phase of their academic careers. This process has been complicated by so many elements of the application process being moved online. Technical difficulties, exam troubles and limited tours are all issues that have made applying to college more difficult for this year’s seniors.

Online issues have plagued the application process, the most recent example being the University of California’s applications site crash. On Sunday, Nov. 28, applicants visiting the website were met with an error message preventing them from submitting their applications before the night’s deadline. The problem was reportedly caused by a system-wide server crash. Fortunately, the University of California extended the deadline to Friday, Dec. 4 to accommodate any students affected by the shutdown.

“Going to the University of California website and finding that I was not able to submit my application was frustrating, but I am glad they extended the deadline,” senior Nicolas Cruz said.

In addition to computer glitches, routine steps of the application process — specifically campus tours and college presentations — have been moved to a virtual setting, which has made learning about schools more difficult for interested students. Physical campus tours have not been an option this year. Instead, universities have provided applicants with virtual tours.

Although they provide an alternative, tours have been limited as they do not allow students to truly immerse themselves in their potential future schools. A video walk-through is simply not the same as physically visiting a school, talking to students already attending a university, having lunch on campus or attending a lecture. To combat these setbacks, Gables alumni created mini virtual tours at their respective schools for current seniors in which they showed their campuses and talked about what their life is like at their new school.

It is difficult because we are virtual, but I also think it is easier because I can be anywhere, and I can be meeting with a student. Even though it is hard that we do not have this physical connection, I think the level of efficiency has increased.”

— College Assistance Program advisor Ms. Driver

Fulfilling final application requirements was another factor that became more demanding. With cancellations and delays of the Scholastic Aptitude Test and American College Testing, students were forced to go to great lengths to complete these exams. Florida universities are some of the few schools left that still require applicants to take these tests. Several colleges, such as the University of Florida and Florida State University, have assisted struggling students by extending their application deadlines.

SAT and ACT tests were not the only requirements difficult to fulfill this year, college interviews have also differed greatly. Rather than meeting with representatives from colleges in person, students have been completing their interviews through Zoom. With college interviews being online this year, scheduling them has also been complicated.

More locally, Coral Gables Senior High School along with all of Miami-Dade County is now using Scoir, a novel program aimed to prepare students for applying to college. This is the first year Gables has used this program and had access to a college planning site like this. As can be expected with the introduction of a new platform, Scoir came with a learning curve, especially for seniors who had to learn to navigate it within the span of a few months. However, Scoir also has come with several benefits. The system is user-friendly, provides students with a place to create a portfolio that will follow them to university and includes helpful features like college searches.

The application process was definitely tough this year with technical issues, virtual experiences and scheduling difficulties. However, Cavaliers continue to make the most of a difficult situation, preparing to move on to the next phase of their life despite facing such new and confusing obstacles.