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Everyone seems to be talking about this coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic that’s impacting college admissions, worldwide. We thought it would be helpful for high school students and parents to understand the impacts of UC admissions and coronavirus/COVID-19. In this post, we’ll talk about what the new, suspended SAT/ACT requirements are, and what that means for you as a 2021 UC applicant.
So… is it finally time to throw away those college prep books? Not quite… Let’s take a look at how exactly the UCs’ COVID-19 response will affect you. In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the UCs have rolled out some temporary changes to ease admissions requirements. Read the following guideline about the UC Admissions and Coronavirus (COVID-19) to gain a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on UC admission and take better actions accordingly.
In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the UCs are dropping:
- SAT/ACT score requirements for prospective fall 2021 freshman
- letter grade requirements for A-G courses completed in the winter, spring, or summer of this school year
Note: Our advice on these unprecedented times are solely our own opinions.
What Does “UC Admission Easing” Mean?
With all the time you spent maintaining your GPA and test scores, these new changes may be a bit frustrating. So why are the UCs now relaxing all of these requirements you worked so hard to meet?
Well, if you think about it, these changes are actually a great thing. The coronavirus pandemic has significantly disrupted the lives of students and families — the UCs are recognizing this and adjusting accordingly.
They’re also catering to those families that are vulnerable during these times of financial instability.
To put it bluntly, there are students whose parents lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Piling the stress of standardized testing on top of economic uncertainty would be simply unjust.
In short: the UCs are leveling the playing field of opportunities driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.
Here’s something to consider: in admissions, you are always evaluated in relation to your peers and opportunities available in your community.
What does this mean?
For example, if you’re from the Bay Area and you want to pursue computer science (CS), then admissions officers will expect you to have significant CS experience given the abundance of local colleges and tech companies. However, colleges recognize that it wouldn’t be fair to compare an aspiring CS major from the bay with a student from a place like Idaho, where CS opportunities are far more sparse in comparison. So they don’t. Instead, you’re essentially competing with your classmates.
So, if your school is competitive, then your classmates are most likely still striving to take the SATs/ACTs/SAT Subject exams. And these are the same classmates you will be evaluated alongside in admissions.
So think to yourself… will your peers take these exams? Do you live in a socioeconomic situation that allows you to take these exams?
If yes, then you really have to think of it like it’s business as usual. Take those exams.
But What If You Took the SATs/ACTs Already?
Your test scores will still be critical.
In fact, this is what the UCs have to say about taking the SAT or ACT:
“Students applying for fall 2021 are not precluded from taking standardized tests (SAT or ACT) and sending scores if they are able. Doing so can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships…”
In other words, while an SAT/ACT score is not required for prospective fall 2021 freshman, having one can only help.
If your school has resorted to pass/fail, credit/no credit — that’s totally fine. Why? Because again, in admissions, you are always evaluated in relation to your peers and the opportunities available in your community.
Everyone is in the same boat. Don’t sweat it.
In fact, if you’re a student who consistently always did well in terms of grades, pass/fail is actually not a horrible thing. Because of your consistency, admissions officers will see that you’re consistently a good student and that’ll carry over into admissions. So don’t worry! It’s not like your hard work is for naught. You’ve laid down a solid foundation of awesome grades throughout high school… so you’re good!
But what if you have significant blips in your grades?
Well, then this pass/fail thing can be a bit more tricky for you. But here’s the thing: don’t worry. Instead, what you have to do… and it’s a life lesson… is to focus on what YOU CAN CONTROL.
Ask yourself: what can I do right now given my constraints to make myself “look better” in the eyes of admissions officers when it comes to my academics?
- Use this extra time to crush the SATs/ACTs/Subject exams
- Refine your extracurriculars
1. If your family situation allows for it, take your SAT/ACT/SAT Subject exams like you normally would have. Keep an eye out for SAT and/or ACT updates.
2. If a school goes pass/fail, then other aspects of your application may be weighed more heavily: first semester grades, testing, extracurricular… and the UC ESSAYS!
So instead of worrying about your GPA, focus on what you can control. What can you do to make yourself better on paper between now and October 2020?
Hint: Start working on your UC essays soon with all the free time you have! See our UC essay examples for some inspiration
3. UC trends won’t significantly deviate from previous years. Each year, UC provides data on its applicants, admits, and enrollees (See: UC admissions trends). You can use this tool to better understand UC admissions trends within your own high school.
For example, let’s say you go to Gunn High School, and you’re applying to Berkeley.
As you can see, in 2019, 51 out of 234 applicants from Gunn High School were accepted. And if you look at acceptances from Gunn in the last 5 years, the figures are relatively constant: around 40 – 50 students are admitted each year. You can expect those numbers to be quite similar for you.
Bottom line: whatever admission trends you see for your high school for each UC will NOT deviate simply because of COVID-19.
So now I want to turn it over to you: are you stressed about how UC admissions will be impacted due to coronavirus/COVID-19? Or, do you feel motivated to keep crushing it?
Remember, challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. How will you make meaning out of this pandemic?
Tell us what you’ll do to take a step forward in the comments below!