This year, college applications are going to look very different this year for high school seniors. Because of the Covid-19 outbreak and the changing views on standardized testing across the country, most private universities are making standardized tests optional, and the UC applications are now test blind. AP tests also may not be weighed as heavily in the selection process this year, because they were formatted with open notes which limited anti-cheating measures. All these changes are going to mean more pressure will be put on extracurricular activities, GPAs, and perhaps most of all, personal statements and essays. Although this might feel like another hurdle in the way of attending top school choices, there’s evidence that these changes might make the college process easier for public school students.
This graph shows the average test score on SAT sections based on family income. There is a clear correlation between wealth and how well students do on the test; wealthier families have more access to private schools with SAT prep than their lower income counterparts and so score higher on average. To counteract the economically biased system which the SAT relies on, Personal statements are being given extra attention. These are a way for colleges to understand applicants and their achievements and are much more resistant to wealth-based influences.
For interested Tech Seniors, there are resources at school to improve writing without spending money. Oakland Tech’s college and career center is offering everyone the opportunity to have their essay read by a professional for free, allowing students an opportunity to share ideas or edit submissions. If you as a student wants a second set of eyes or someone to bounce ideas off of, this could be a real help to you. During College Crunch Week from November 18th to 22nd, the college and career center will offer additional support during tutorial hours each week. If you are still planning to take a standardized test, you can take a free practice SAT on Khan Academy, or borrow an ACT prep book from one of the Oakland libraries which are currently doing sidewalk pickups for items reserved online.