College admissions altered by coronavirus


Students wearing masks to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, sit for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams at a school in Hong Kong, Friday, April 24, 2020. Temperature checks and social distancing measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 had been put in place in the schools for over 50,000 candidates who will sit for the DSE examination this year. (Jerome Favre/Pool Photo via AP)

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — The coronavirus pandemic is forcing colleges and universities across the country to adjust they way they base admissions.

The SAT and ACT — two standardized tests commonly used to judge student performance — have been cancelled and postponed by the virus. That impact is likely hurting students, according to Wofford College VP for Enrollment Brand Stille.

“Certainly every student has been limited in their options and their opportunities because of coronavirus and because of quarantine,” he said via Zoom Tuesday.

Enter test-optional admissions, the approach used by Wofford College. It is a system in which colleges and universities do not require applicants to submit standardized testing scores. According to Stille, about 1,000 colleges across the country are already adopting the practice.

Because of coronavirus, though, that number is likely to rise.

Stille says the pandemic has caused “lots of colleges to go test-optional, some for a year, some for another period of time experimentally.” Others, he says, are test-optional indefinitely now.

When using the approach, admissions officers will more heavily weigh applicants’ extra-curricular activities, recommendations and essays than they might under normal admissions.

Converse College has adopted test-optional admission after the move was approved in November 2019.

Converse will also allow male students to enroll in the traditionally women’s college for the first time this fall. The change was initially planned to roll out in the fall of 2021. However, coronavirus led to leaders opening enrollment one year early.

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