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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Pandemic Process: The Class of 2021 Reflects on their College Applications

A map demonstrating the locations of the colleges that the Class of 2021 is heading to next year. (Graphic by Maia Nehme)

The college application process has indisputably become far more difficult over the last few decades, according to the Atlantic. However, current WIS seniors faced an especially tough year due to the pandemic, which led to a record high number of applications and an increased fixation on the college application process, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Three WIS seniors attending schools in the US, Canada, or taking a gap year, reflected on their unique college process and what they have learned from it.

Hank Harris plans to take a gap year. Harris will return to his hometown of Queanbeyan, Australia and work for the remainder of 2021. He will then apply to study Acting and Performance Art at an Australian university starting in 2022.

Despite choosing to take a gap year, Harris decided to apply to three American colleges in order to learn about the application process for acting. “I applied here to simulate what the experience would be like in Australia and to have experience filming self auditions so that I could hit the ground running,” he said.

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Because of the pandemic, the normally in-person auditions and performances took place over Zoom. This added a layer of confusion to an already highly stressful process. “It’s not the ideal circumstance under which to apply for a performance course,” Harris said.

Clementine Rotsaert applied to 11 colleges in the UK, US, and Canada. Rotsaert will study Human Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Toronto and hopes to attend medical school after graduating.

Rotsaert pointed out another stressor brought about by COVID-19, the test-optional policy adopted by the majority of US colleges. According to US News, most American universities made submitting standardized test scores optional since most students’ exams were canceled due to the pandemic.

“You’re like, ‘great, I can apply to all these schools… I don’t have this barrier [of having to earn high test scores] in the way anymore.’ But that made it so much more competitive because of the [increased] number of applicants that top schools got,” she said.

Kanitta Cheah applied to seven American universities as a film major. She will attend Colorado College in the fall to study Film and Media Studies.

Cheah noticed that the pandemic exacerbated her stress, which meant she spent less time learning about the college application process. 

“Going through it was stressful just because I didn’t know what was going on most of the time, so I had to rely on my college counselor a lot more,” she said. 

Another challenge that the class of 2021 faced due to the pandemic was not being able to visit any universities. This made it much more difficult for Rotsaert to choose her future school once she received all of her application results. 

“The ultimate decision making was very hard because I’d never been to half of the places that I applied to… It’s scary thinking that you’re going to move to a place that you have no idea about,” she said. 

The three hope that despite these many obstacles, fellow students feel positively about their overall application experience and are proud of the schools they will be attending next year.

“I think that a lot of people have felt ashamed by their schools this year because of the fact that we have a WIS Class of 2021 Instagram. But people need to keep in mind that [even if] your school doesn’t ‘look good’ on the Instagram, you’re still going to do amazing things,” Rotsaert said. “Passion is better than [college] rankings when it comes to succeeding in whatever you want to do in your life.”

By Maia Nehme

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