High school students, admissions departments navigate new normal


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State University has not restarted on campus tours for prospective students, so Piyush Mekla, a high school senior year from Chicago, walked around campus with his family Wednesday.

Mekla was on OSU’s campus after wrapping up a summer college tour with visits to Cornell, Penn State, and Carnegie Mellon.

Mekla says, so far, he has been unable to take the standardized college admission tests.

“Out of all the test centers, I had three of them cancel in June, July, August,” Mekla said. “Now, I’m hoping my September SAT will go on because I really want that score in.”

Because of the limited availability of the tests during the pandemic, many colleges and universities have made standardized test scores optional. 

Mekla says that means college admissions departments will be more closely considering other factors.

“Colleges are going to be looking for, you know, what did you do during the quarantine? Did you do extra online courses? Did you do volunteering? Did you help out with the pandemic with donating masks and stuff?” he said.

Beth Wiser, executive director of undergraduate admission at Ohio State, says they understand that there are parts of student resumes that will be missing.

“We recognize students aren’t going have the same experiences and we’re not going to hold that against them in the application process,” Wiser said. “At the end of the day, that’s true for every high school student in this country.”

At Otterbein University, Mark Moffitt, executive director of Admissions, says they are taking a holistic approach to the application review process.

“We will make accommodations based on the types of courses that they may have been scheduled to take and may not be able to take, Moffitt said.

Wiser said her staff has been talking to school counselors to get an understanding of the realities facing high school seniors this year. 

She said the application process leaves room for students to provide some context of how they have been impacted by the pandemic.

“That’s the kind of thing that we’re looking for,” Wiser said. “In the absence of being able to play their summer baseball season or do that internship that they had lined up, they can tell us what they are planning on doing and they can also tell us what things they did in lieu of that.”

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