Students alter college plans in light of COVID-19

By Kyle Wu, staff writer

The University of California schools have recently updated their admissions standards for the class of 2021 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Some of the most prominent changes to admissions standards include the temporary drop of the SAT/ACT requirement as well as the implementation of pass/fail grading systems in place of traditional letter grades. According to the UC Board of Regents, this change is intended to be an “accomodation to reassure students and families.”

Other aspects of the application such as senior year grades and extracurriculars will likely receive more emphasis than usual. According to Maria Carrillo High School College and Career counselor Ashlee Moreno, students will have to demonstrate “self-motivation and adaptability.”

This view is shared by MCHS junior Lakshman Sundaram. He said that the changes in admissions requirements will force him to devote time to other aspects of college admissions such as extracurriculars and grades, which will create more stress for students in his opinion because they will have to “care about [these] things more than [they] would have normally.” 

Moreno agrees: Even though colleges will take into account “current circumstances,” students will still have to “get creative to demonstrate their interest.” 

The change in admissions requirements may also prompt students to alter their original plans for next year, including testing schedules and coursework.

Sundaram believes the new policy will cause students to modify their current testing plans. While he has already taken the traditional standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT Subject tests, he believes that even if students chose to take them, they would put in “a lot less effort now that they’re not required.”

Even if testing plans are altered, Sundaram believes that the new requirements will have little impact on students’ coursework, including JC classes. He said that since those classes are still offered, his plans won’t change, and intends to take English and computer science courses at the JC next school year.

However, even though the coronavirus has caused the UC to relax admissions requirements, it will create new financial hardships for prospective students.

As a result of the pandemic, the amount of financial aid available will decrease because colleges will lose a significant portion of their annual endowments, which are money and financial assets donated to a university for a specific purpose. According to The Hechinger Report, the majority of American universities’ $630 billion endowment funds are invested in stocks whose prices have plummeted due to the coronavirus.

According to USA Today, many students who planned to rely on financial aid are put under further economic strain as a result of their declining household incomes.

“I can totally see college acceptance being mainly of the upper class because only they can pay for college,” said Sundaram.

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