Gaps in the transcription? A strong application for college remains possible | Business

Applying to college usually comes with some uncertainty, but this year’s applicants tackle an additional question: what should you do when a pandemic has limited the content of your college applications?

Many extracurriculars, including sports and clubs, were unable to continue during the pandemic. And many school districts across the country, recognizing the challenges posed by the pandemic, have offered students the option of not receiving alphabetical grades for the classes they have taken.

This choice left some students with “pass” or “credit”, or “fail” or “no credit”, rather than actual grades on their transcripts.

College admissions officials have been prepared for these changes since before the current admissions cycle began, said David Hawkins, education and policy manager at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

“Admissions officers clearly understand the challenges these students faced because they themselves had these experiences,” says Hawkins. “They were locked up just like the students. “

SO WHAT ARE COLLEGES LOOKING FOR NOW?

As applications change, so do admissions officers.

A transcript filled with “pass” or “credit” scores will not count against you, according to admissions officials. What will count are the grades on your transcript, as well as the courses you’ve taken, says Steve Robinson, senior associate vice president for enrollment management at the University of Utah. .

“I think a lot of schools look at the academic rigor of what a student has attempted,” says Robinson. “In a rural high school there may not be as many (advanced placement) opportunities or none, but what I can say is that the student took everything he could. to offer in high school academically – they really tried, even though they (have passing grades).

As the scoring has changed so have the testing requirements. Even before the pandemic, colleges began making the submission of standardized test results, such as ACT and SAT, optional. The practice has spread to more schools due to the challenges the pandemic has posed.

Extracurricular activities also don’t look like they were before the pandemic. Hawkins says that in some cases, the way students spent their free time during the pandemic is replacing the extracurricular section of an application, at least in the eyes of admissions officers.

Some applications, including Common application – a standardized college application accepted at around 900 schools – may offer space to write about your experience during the pandemic, such as difficulties you encountered or a new skill you learned.

“The other thing I heard from admissions officers was that they were pleasantly surprised, and in some cases astonished, at what the students continued to do even during the lockdown,” said Hawkins.

YOUR BEST APPLICATION WORKS TO YOUR STRENGTHS

With the option to complete certain essays or submit test results, a strong application is the one that best shows what you’ve accomplished.

If you took the ACT or SAT and got a score that will help strengthen your application, send it to the college you are applying to. But if you didn’t get the score you want included in your application, don’t include it, says Christine Harper, associate vice president for student success and head of enrollment at the University of Kentucky.

“We will use what benefits the student the most,” says Harper. With some of the applications now optional, students should go back over everything they’ve done and present the best version of themselves to college, Harper adds.

Overall, the pandemic forced college admissions officials to reassess their expectations of students, especially as high school students had different access to their usual activities, says Keri Risic, executive director. acting admissions at the University of Minnesota.

Any change to these activities is not considered negative, adds Risic. If you have something to share about your application that gives a perspective on how you experienced the pandemic, admissions officers want to know.

Ultimately, while there are adjustments students can make to stand out in the application pool, the overwhelming message admissions officers have for prospective students is to worry less.

“There should be some peace of mind for students because colleges fully understand the position they find themselves in,” Hawkins says. “Give yourself a little grace.”

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This article was provided to The Associated Press by the NerdWallet personal finance website. Colin Beresford is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ colin — beresford.

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