Should colleges adjust expectations because of the pandemic?

Colleges should be forgiving in the admissions cycle because of the shift from in-person learning to Zoom

Last March, distance learning felt like an inconvenience that would soon pass. The idea of starting the 2020-2021 school year online seemed far-fetched, yet almost a year later, we are still at home and the virus has shaken the lives of students more than most people imagined. Online school has begun to feel normal and most people have temporarily adjusted to our new way of learning. In a variety of aspects, this virus has been evil toward students, causing immense stress. The last thing anyone wants to do in this time is apply for college, especially when so many of the activities that build applications have been stripped from students. It is incredibly important that colleges are sympathetic to applicants and do not disregard how hard online learning has been for some and their dwindling emotional wellbeing. 

Despite the impressive features of Zoom, learning is undoubtedly harder for the majority of students online, and colleges need to account for this. With shorter classes and more asynchronous work, online learning inevitably perpetrates an endless cycle of more assignments and less engagement, making it harder for many students to retain information. Personally, my grades have remained the same as, if not better than, they were before the pandemic, but now that I am studying for finals, I can hardly remember the content I learned in the first quarter. 

Students shouldn’t be penalized by admissions officers for simply not being able to learn as effectively online. Realistically, the goal of college admissions is to accept a class full of people that colleges believe have the ability to succeed. With test scores and GPAs in jeopardy for many highly capable students, numerical values from this school year will simply not accurately inform colleges of a student’s potential to learn.

I realize that colleges are already starting to move away from standardized testing, but especially in these upcoming years, the numbers should be an afterthought. If the other areas of a student’s application demonstrate a passion for learning, there is no reason for that student to be rejected because learning during a pandemic challenged them. 

It would be a disservice to everyone if colleges rejected students because their GPA fell while 400,000+ people in the country died. The ability to adapt to virtual learning is not synonymous to the ability to succeed in college. Everyone learns differently, and colleges must be empathetic when they are admitting students.