So, what’s happening in the College Admissions landscape due to COVID-19?

I’m talking about the impact of Coranavirus for High School students in the USA.

I would say- A lot!

Topics Covered:

  • Test-Optional Schools
  • The Big Story – Waitlisted & Admitted
  • Strategy for High School Students

Test-Optional Schools

Cornell University: Goes Test-Optional for Class of 2025

Cornell overall has not planned to adopt a test-optional admission policy permanently. As appears to be true at test-optional colleges and universities, we anticipate that many students who will have had reasonable and uninterrupted opportunities to take the ACT and/or SAT during 2020 administrations will continue to submit results, and those results will continue to demonstrate preparation for college-level work.

So, you might wonder how Cornell will evaluate students if SAT or ACT scores are not submitted?

Cornel’s Press Statement included the following:

Cornell University Suspends ACT SAT Testing Requirement for 2021 Applicants | Undergraduate Admissions

There’s no announcement from other Ivy Leagues about changes to testing requirements.

Haverford, other highly selective colleges like Swarthmore, are going on the 2-3 Year Pilot Test-Optional Program.

Test-Optional Schools for Class for 2025

Here’s a list of school waiving SAT or ACT Test for Class of 2025 (applying for college from Oct 2020)

  • Cornell University
  • Harvard College – No penalties for not submitting SAT Subject Tests or AP Scores
  • Princeton University – Test Scores Recommended
  • Williams College
  • Amherst College
  • University of California Universities
  • Tufts
  • Northeastern
  • Boston University
  • Vassar College
  • Pomona College
  • Davidson College
  • Haverford College
  • Rhodes College
  • University of Washington
  • The University of Oregon
  • Oregon State University
  • Scripps College
  • Texas Christian University
  • Trinity University in San Antonio (three-year period)
  • Tulane University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Barnard College
  • Baylor University
  • California State System
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Indiana University, Bloomington (Permanent starting in 2020-21)
  • Indiana University, South Bend (Permanent starting in 2020-21)
  • Santa Clara University
  • University of Richmond

In this list of Test-Optional Schools, some are going on a 2 to 3 years Test-Optional cycle.

May 1 – College Decision Day

May 1 is the College Decision Day. And, some schools have moved the Decision to June 1.

The BIG Story: Colleges are digging deeper into their waiting lists to offer admissions.

Students who would not make it from the waiting lists are now getting admits!

But why?

  • International Students
  • Attending In-State School
  • Gap-Year

International Students are deferring the admits to Fall 2021. But why?

  • They either don’t want to come to the USA (or)
  • The US Consulates are closed, and they can’t get the F1 Student Visa.

Here’s an example from one of my student:

no flights from india admission deferred to 2021


International students make up about 10% to 15% of the Freshman class.

According to the Princeton Review Survey, 70% of domestic students choose to attend colleges within 180 Mile Radius from home.

And students are hesitant to attend colleges in NY or LA.

Plus, a student who decided to attend Private Colleges will pay a higher tuition fee ($50k to $75k per year).

But, they could end-up attending classes online. So, many are deferring the admission and taking a Gap Year.

Which means colleges have unfilled seats for Class of 2024 (starting in Aug 2020).

Students waitlisted are now getting admitted right after sending the letter of continued interest.

College Admission for Class of 2025

What Does This Mean for Students applying for Class of 2025 (Fall 2020)?

If 15% of students were granted deferred admission to next year, that’s 15% less admitted students for the next year (class of 2025).

That’s approximately 270 students who could not get admission next year (for the class of 1800 freshman)!

In other terms, the admission will be more competitive for Highly Selective Colleges unless Universities decide to increase the admits recovering the lost revenue for the next 1 to 3 years.

Plus, I expect the number of merit-based scholarships and award amount to get a hit as well.

The best approach to stay competitive is by using Early Decision (ED) and Early Action Effectively based on your family’s affordability.


  • 12th Grade – If waitlisted, write a letter of continued interest
  • 11th Grade – Use ED Effectively or EA (& REA)
  • 10th, 9th Grade – Plan for In-home Summer/Year Long Scholarly Activities
  • 8th Grade – Course Planning is the Key here

8th to 10th – There shouldn’t be any impact on admission. Assuming things will come back to normal. But, students will miss-out this Summer being home. Summer months should be used to take part in activities to show-case interests towards a specific field (like EMT training for Med School) or High School Summer Programs.

This Summer, a student can’t take part in such activities. Plus, school’s pout till Aug 2020. So, take part in meaningful activities counts.

  • Watching TV – Not OK
  • Free Online College Courses – Good
  • Online Courses for College Credits – Better

These options will vary based on the student’s interests.

It could be an online Summer Immersion Program to Practicing your skill at home.

Next Steps:

  • Attend this Free College Planning Webinar
    • How to get into Highly Selective Colleges
    • 9 Factors in used by Highly Selective College
    • Financial Aid Formula (Simplified Version)
    • You can watch the instant replay or pick the next available slot.


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