The saying “we are living in a new normal” is so cliché, yet so real. When we think about education in this new way it seems to be a toss-up. You may have a great system in place to deliver digital learning, with a supportive community, as well as a dedicated staff to support digital learning. You may have a system where summer began after March 13, 2020, or a system that is somewhere in-between the two poles. We have lived through Covid-19 digital learning of Pre-K through college level classes. As Pre-K through 12th grade administrators and governments identify reopening options, college officials are doing the same. We have a limited amount of information about what’s to come, but our students should still stay enriched and supported through this transition. We are now looking at young adults affected by this change but still striving for college and career readiness. Brick-and-Mortar institutions are now online schools, college admissions requirements are focused on something other than standardized exams, and students are continuing to question what to do with their lives.
As a Georgia school counselor, I have been inundated with students’ questions about what happens next year as it relates to Dual Enrollment or college admissions. The questions are filled with nervousness of the unknown, angst as it pertains to admissions answers, and I can only respond, “I don’t have all the answers, but take a minute to breath.” Though this time we are living in is like no other in our lifetime, I suggest students continue to build their resumes and add on to their mental lexicon. Over the summer, students should try to keep their minds sharp and build their knowledge. Find a group of friends that share your interest and create a book club or watch and discuss a movie together. A recent High School graduate told me that her and a group of friends “watch a movie together” at their respective homes while using a virtual meeting medium. Students are honing in on analytical and discussion skills every time they talk about the new movie, song, or book that’s out. Become accustom to reading the paper, watching the news, sitting with the elders and understanding historical and current events. Without deadlines or teacher driven instructions, try understanding some math concepts that completely made no sense during digital learning. Learning should not have ceased because of Covid-19.
College admissions procedures have drastically changed to accommodate the fluctuations in the world. The requirements are different; mandating minimum SAT or ACT scores is becoming obsolete, qualifying GPAs is still a necessity, and requiring various letters of recommendations are holding more weight. College Board is a not-for-profit organization, governing the SAT and other college success opportunities, who had to modify their exam schedule due to this pandemic; they are hoping to restart the exam schedule in August 2020 and adding exam dates more frequently. The question is, what does all of this mean for potential college students?
Colleges and Universities were obligated to think quickly to ensure students could still be admitted to their Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 programs. Many of the University System of Georgia (USG) schools have begun to accept a digital version of a dissimilar college admissions test: The Accuplacer in lieu of SAT or ACT scores is now being used. Georgia Gwinnett College and Georgia State University, to name a few, are amongst the schools that adopted the Accuplacer exam (Georgia Gwinnett College, 2020). Moreover, other states are rethinking admissions criteria as well. The University of California (UC) college system declared that they will not use SAT or ACT for admissions, but instead will have students complete a new test that aligns with UC expectations (Hess, 2020). Consequently, some schools such as Kennesaw State University have taken the stance of eliminating admissions tests completely during this time. These modifications have benefits and downsides. A Georgia technical college recently contacted me stating that students can now be placed in a college level math course just by submitting an official transcript. This is significant because math placement has been based on test scores under the guise that the scores are indicative of a student that can handle higher level thinking in that subject area. This is a benefit for students who simple do not test well. These changes affect rising college students, dual enrollment students, and current students on their matriculation journey.
Early last week, Georgia had ideas, but no concrete decision on how to reopen its brick-and-mortar campuses. According to the USG Fall 2020 Memo there were three Contingency plans that consider the safety of the staff and students of these institutions.
The current status of college admissions is not stagnant and can change as the pandemic changes. I encourage students to stay the course, and end the school year with a strong foundation to begin anew. If grades and GPA are a major factor in college admissions, then focus on being driven to succeed and follow your goals. Regardless of the conflicts of the times, remember your creator and set your course towards being a productive member of your community.
Georgia Gwinnett College. (2020). Freshman admission: Never attended college. https://www.ggc.edu/admissions/how-to-apply/freshmen-no-college.html
Hess, A. (2020, May 26). The UC sytem plans to phase out the SAT and ACT-and other schools may follow. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/22/uc-plans-to-phase-out-sat-and-act-other-schools-may-follow-suit.html
University System of Georgia. (2020, May 12). Stay safe, stay well on campus. https://www.usg.edu/coronavirus/
Madeenah Alwakeel-Dawson MEd
Madeenah Alwakeel-Dawson is a certified school counselor in the state of Georgia and a Doctoral student at the University of West Georgia. She has 18 years of education and counseling experience, working with children and adults alike. For the past 6 years, she has created a counseling department at a private Islamic School in the Atlanta Metro area and has held the School Counselor Department chair position. Madeenah is a proponent of tapping into hidden potential to support individuals in self-discovery and goal setting.
Makkah International Institute