The Piedmont Highlander

The Student News Site of Piedmont High School

The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

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April 18, 2024

A Q&A with College and Career Center director Gwenly Carrel



Q: How has COVID-19 impacted the admissions process thus far?


For the class of 2020, the admissions process was mostly over before the virus started to really impact people on a global scale. You took your tests, you sent out your applications, and the colleges reviewed them, so it is not impacting the admissions staff so much. The real impact is in your decision-making process. That’s going to look quite a bit different, especially if you were planning on visiting campuses before committing to a school. And with the economy on the decline, finances may impact your decision more than they did before. 


Q: How might the virus continue to impact college admissions for the class of 2021 and beyond?


Nobody is entirely sure how this is going to affect the class of 2021, with standardized tests being canceled and extracurriculars shut down. But I know this: the admissions staff is on your side. They understand what a confusing time this is. I received a letter from the dean of admissions at the University of Chicago essentially urging students not to worry, and affirming that they know that everything that is happening is unprecedented. [Throughout] the college application process in the fall, please know that no group of individuals will be more empathetic to all the changes that this is creating than those on the college and university admissions side. We want to be as flexible and adjustable as we can with things like standardized testing, extracurriculars, and grades. Don’t be shy about reaching out.


Q: How do you recommend seniors proceed in the decision-making process, especially those who are considering colleges that they are unable to visit due to school closures and travel restrictions?


Unfortunately, most colleges have canceled their admitted student events, which are the opportunity for prospective students to get on campus with what I like to call a “buying eye”. It’s important to try and get the perspective of an actual student, to conceptualize what it would be like to really live on campus and interact with the people there. So in lieu of physical tours, schools are really ramping up their virtual tours and student events online. If you are unable to visit a school that you’re seriously considering, take a look at their social media, follow their blogs, join Facebook groups for admitted students. If the school is nearby, even as far as Southern California, consider doing a driving tour to see the layout of the campus. The admissions officers know that this is a hard time, so reach out to them. If you want to connect with the professor in a certain department, they can put you in touch with them, or maybe even connect you with a current student. Everyone is having to get creative to fill in the gaps. That’s the only way that you’re going to be able to make your decision.


Q: Have the decision dates changed due to COVID-19? How can seniors best keep track of potential scheduling changes as they occur?

May 1 is the national decision day —  under normal circumstances, that is when students are expected to commit to attending a school. However, many colleges are pushing that back until June 1 to give students a little bit more time. Most schools are sending out emails to keep prospective students updated, so definitely check your inbox. But the most important thing to do during all of this is to keep track of their websites. Go there every day if you need to because that is where they will be posting updates and letting people know if dates change.



Q: How is graduation going to proceed? 


Honestly, we still do not know. These are uncharted waters —  we are not even positive that we will be able to return to classroom learning by the end of the year. But the class of 2020 will have a graduation, that is certain. You will be able to celebrate the fact that you have made it through high school.


For more information on how COVID-19 is affecting students in their application and decision processes, check out Carrel’s update in the bulletin.

For a digital database updating changes in college events, enrollment deadlines, and campus closures, check out the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC)’s online resource here.

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