By Anna Nickerson, Babson College Class of ’22
Recently, Gap Year Solutions joined three college planning experts to discuss the “new normal” of today’s college landscape. During this webinar they each shared advice to parents, students, and counselors in their respective fields. We thought it might be most useful for the readers of this space to hear what Don McMillan, CEO of McMillan Education, had to say about important changes in today’s college admissions process. (We’ll share interviews with Moira McCullough, Founder of College Scoops, and Elizabeth Pyle, Founder of College Success Plan, in upcoming posts.)
Here are four key takeaways from Don’s talk:
- Subjective Elements Trump Objective Ones. Many schools are deciding not to accept standardized testing this year and a majority of students’ grades last semester were pass/fail due to the pandemic. As a result, subjective application components for rising seniors will be much more important, such as their essays, extracurriculars and hobbies.
- Demonstrated Interest & Engagement. As a result of health and safety measures, schools are electing for virtual tours instead of in-person ones. This means that students have to express their interest in schools remotely. College admissions officers are keeping track of students staying in touch with the school via email, social media, information sessions, virtual tours, and one-on-one calls. It is imperative that students find ways to interact regularly with their selected schools, and go out of their way to make a positive impression throughout the process.
- Essays are Critical. College admissions officers are advising that students do not write about COVID in their personal essays, unless otherwise stated in a specific prompt. Schools will be focusing even more so on essays during this admissions cycle, so it is more important than ever for students to be authentic and intentional in their writing.
- General Advice. Don also emphasized that students should cast a wider net this year when looking at schools and to focus on what is in their control: the subjective elements. Students may also want to consider strategically applying to their top choice for Early Decision II in January 2021.
Photo Credit: McMillan Education