Local College Admissions Adapts to COVID-19

Scott Lipscomb Data News Weekly Contributor

When applying for college, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and the American College Test (ACT) examinations are required for high school students to prepare for and submit for acceptance. In a year that has been anything but normal, many colleges and universities have had to evaluate incoming students very differently. With nationwide cancellations of many testing dates for the SAT and ACT exams, admissions offices are finding other solutions for admitting prospective students.

Local Historically Black Universities say they are working to account for the impact of the Pandemic on the Class of 2021 during application season which begins, in earnest, towards the end of 2020. Dillard University announced on Dec. 1st it will make standardized tests optional for students who were not able to take the SAT or ACT before COVID-19 shut down the country in the Spring. This option is for students with a 3.0 unweighted GPA from their ninth to eleventh grade on their official transcripts.

“The Office of Recruitment, Admissions and Programming understands the stress and uncertainty that many students are facing regarding college entrance exams,” said Monica White, the Director of Recruitment, Admissions, and Programming at Dillard.

“We want to remove that added barrier for prospective students and their families to make Dillard University a viable option for the next steps in their educational journey,” White said in a statement announcing the recent changes.

Grambling State University also has made options available for students who were not able to test this year, however, those students will also need to meet the set GPA requirements. Xavier University of Louisiana also grants a test-optional admission which requires students to submit an essay, resume, and letter of recommendation. In the past, students who did not submit test scores did not qualify for all merit scholarships from Xavier. Southern University of New Orleans still requires test scores, however students with lower test scores than the normal threshold is granted admission with academic support resources, such as required office hours.

“With a strong support system, we believe we can increase retention and graduation rates,” said David Agedboye, Ph.D., the Vice Chancellor of Academic and Evening & Weekend Affairs at SUNO, in a statement.

With no timetable for when K-through-12 education will return to normal, admissions counselors said that high school students should expect their GPA to be a major focus of the admissions process next year and going forward. High school students can also expect their co-curricular activities, skills, and community service to be a major component of their applications for college.

A new Warren Easton student, Steven Jackson Jr., said he has been keeping up his co-curricular development, practicing basketball with a hybrid-schedule for the reopening of New Orleans’ schools. “A dream of mine has always been to play a sport in college, and this extended time gives me a chance to practice more,” Jackson said of adjusting to the new normal as a high school student during a Pandemic.

Since virtual schooling at the start of this year restricted many activities for rising seniors, admissions counselors expect to use their entire high school record as an evaluation tool. If they need to, they will take a student’s entire high school record into consideration when determining acceptance.

“At Xavier we have always viewed students in a holistic manner, and during this unprecedented time we understand the new challenges, and will continue to make the admissions process as smooth as possible for students and parents,” said Shaysa Lewis, an Admissions Counselor for Xavier.

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