The current unprecedented times have seen the pandemic compelling almost all sectors even college admissions to take a 360° turn, brainstorm and evolve innovative and creative tactics to remain relevant and thrive. The education sector wasn’t an exception.
Board examinations and standardized tests were postponed or cancelled. Extra-curriculars, sports, and other activities were simply out of the equation. University and college admissions struggled to implement an effective undergraduate admission process without the usual selection metrics during the pandemic.
This did not spare students, who are now coping with the anxiety of the uncertainty regarding their education and career after their 12th board exams. Worse, some are also grieving the loss of loved ones. Parents, especially from low-income families, are struggling with business losses and falling incomes to pay college admission fees. Added to these is the concern for their children’s career and safety.
However, the education space is seeing novel changes to ease the application process. Private players are using creative approaches to guide others through the chaos of college admissions.
The Global Scenario
The pandemic has forced universities and colleges to revise admission policies in 2021. Therefore, they have adopted alternative approaches in the absence of traditional selection metrics. Several universities, including Ivy Leagues, were accepting applications without SAT/ACT scores. This saw college admission teams spend more time on each application with a different mindset to determine each applicant’s calibre and personality.
1. New Selection Strategies
During the process, college admission teams were giving less weightage to the usual metrics: academics, extra-curricular activities, sports, performing arts, community service, work experience, etc. Instead, the applicant’s personality became the most important selection criteria.
Admission officers had to piece together a picture of each applicant by sifting through the essays, letters of recommendation, and their statements of purpose to determine the personality, calibre, attitude, resilience, and emotional aptitude.
With alternative teaching and learning processes in the pandemic, colleges were accepting letters of recommendation from teachers even for students whom they only knew online.
2. Surge of Applications
Popular universities and colleges saw a surge in applications as they began accepting applications without SAT/ACT scores. This year also saw a greater diversity in the application pool at premier institutions.
However, this prospect is also slightly misleading. On paper, it may seem that students would have a greater chance of selection at these premier institutions. However, this does not exactly translate to reality. An increased opportunity for application doesn’t necessarily mean a greater chance of selection. These institutions are still very selective and accept only 4–6% of applications.
3. Better Opportunity in Medium-Level Institutions
Comparatively, less popular and less selective institutions emerged as a more feasible option, as they saw lesser applications in 2021. This scarcity was due to many students from low-income families not planning to join college this year, and fewer international applications. Thus, a vast number of students, who did not find a place in popular institutions, found a respite in these establishments.
4. Travel Restrictions
Travel restrictions were a considerable deterrent for international students. However, colleges were quick to respond with alternatives here as well. Several provided the option to attend online classes and join later in person, after visa clearances and lift of travel bans.
The Domestic Scenario
In India, universities and colleges that were reliant on the higher secondary board examinations were in a fix. The prime example was the much sought-after Delhi University, which always admits students solely based on academics. Most Indian universities and colleges failed to respond quickly with alternative plans. Many had to force their academic schedule back to as far as January.
However, private universities were the clear winners in this round. Because of their flexibility and holistic approach, they could handle the situation more effectively.
1. Provisional Admissions
Universities and colleges that had customised entrance tests gave provisional admissions students, provided that they would provide their Class 12 results later.
However, institutions that would admit students based on their JEE and NEET performance had to delay their college admission process. This was also the case with universities and colleges that admitted students through Common Entrance Tests. Several had to reschedule their academic calendar and delay the schedule by 2–3 months.
2. Proctored Online Tests
The scenario did not affect leading private universities that had a more holistic approach. They usually employed various selection metrics like essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews other than academics. In 2021, these institutions also came up with proctored online tests and interviews to avoid delaying the academic schedule and gave provisional admissions.
The Role of Career Counselling in Helping to Choose the Right College in the Time of COVID-19
In this prevailing environment of uncertainty and apprehension, inadequate information and assessment of all options and situations, neither the student nor the parents can make a prudent decision.
However, if the pandemic has closed many doors, it has also given opportunities for exploring a plethora of options for advancement. It has forced all stakeholders to redefine their approach and be inventive, creative and flexible.
The importance of counselling and career counsellors has become imperative during the pandemic. Online career counselling helps students navigate the prevailing education scenario, with expert advice from industry specialists with a higher vantage point.
Knowing the pandemic’s effects on various careers and industries doubles as effective career guidance. Leading career counsellors utilize advanced research, innovations, and technologies to assess each student.
Their psychometric counselling tests use different parameters like personality, learning styles and preferences, aptitude, interests, academics, and individual requirements. The results help counsellors guide you regarding the most appropriate career and industry requirements.
As a student, you should seek the following from in-person or online career counseling:
- Personalized career development plan
- Guidance from career and industry experts
- Personalized mentoring and counselling
- Timely updates from respective career domains
- Personal monitoring of career progression with regular guidance
The pandemic has thrown diverse and difficult challenges globally and domestically. Universities, colleges, and educators are doing their best to tackle the situation. However, choosing the right college time during COVID-19 and the best institution, city, or country ultimately becomes a student’s responsibility.
Online career counselling can help students make such strategic decisions safely during the pandemic. Make 2021 count by achieving career clarity with counselling from leading professionals at Mindler.