New normal for seniors: college processes online


College processes going online with the pandemic proves to be a new challenge for seniors: Virtual tours are less personal and standardized tests are harder to take.


Preparing for college is exciting but at the same time, stressful considering the setbacks associated with the pandemic. This year, it is more challenging to tour college campuses, earn scholarships, and take standardized tests. 

Although PHS students had the opportunity to take the ACT in Oct. upon the return to in-person school, many students nationwide have not been able to take the test with the pandemic restrictions. Even students who took the test in October, have a slim chance of retaking it as locations are restricting the number of students who can be on site. Once the site fills up, it is not uncommon for the test’s location to be changed, making college procedures more difficult for students. Senior Grace Pittman notes that the “standardized testing and time management,” was very difficult because she had to “find a time and a place to take the ACT.” Fortunately, many colleges have lightened the requirements of standardized testing, which is a relief to some, but a disservice to others. Finding scholarships requires more creativity as it is not as easy to get recognized by colleges. Senior James Kinney said, “Since test scores like the ACT and SAT aren’t really important this year, that’s changed how some scholarship stuff has worked and made it harder to find some scholarships.” 

Some scholarship requirements have changed to be more accommodating to staying at home but more creativity and time are required to get one. There are several scholarship databases available for high school students who have many different backgrounds and financial needs. Career Center Tech Jocelyn Whiteneck encouraged students to “apply for as many as you can, no matter the amount. Any little bit will help!” 

In addition to the many challenges seniors are facing to attract the attention of colleges, it is difficult to make that vital decision online. “I think it would be very difficult for someone to really get the “feel” of the campus from just a video,” Whiteneck says, she adds “with the virtual admissions, and the tours, I think you lose a lot of the personal interaction. These events are often filled with hundreds of people from all across the country. You can’t ask specific questions about your situation.” Touring colleges can also be an important part of making college decisions and preparing for the future. “Reach out to any friends you have that are attending a university you are interested in. They can tell you what it’s really like on campus, what the registration process is like, and what experiences they have had,” Whiteneck recommends. Reaching out to students or alumni who have experiences attending a college that interests you creates a more personal connection to the school. 

Even with the difficulty of preparing for college during the pandemic, seniors have become more resilient embracing a “new normal” and finding creative methods to transition to the next stage of their lives.