Seniors navigate through the college process


According to US News, these are the top five colleges in Florida.

“I have no idea what to do,” said senior Bethany Warren, in regards to applying to college during the pandemic.

Some seniors at Cape High have concerns over what college applications will look like this year. “My biggest concerns are testing policies and college tours,” said Warren.

These policies are constantly changing as news regarding the pandemic is updated. However, there are helpful new policies that colleges have adopted to ease  the stress from this already difficult application season.

One of the biggest concerns students face during this application season is standardized testing. With cancellations, delays, limited capacity in the testing centers, and general safety concerns, it may seem impossible for students to take the SAT and ACT.

In more traditional years, seniors are able to take these standardized tests multiple times in order to get their scores as high as possible. For many seniors this year, limited seating will only allow time for students to take one or two tests. This may prevent them from showing their full potential.

Fortunately, colleges have heard these issues and are listening. Colleges in Florida such as Florida Southern University, University of Miami, Eckerd College, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Rollins College, University of Tampa, Stetson University, Flagler College, and Southeastern University, have either gone test optional for this season, or were test optional to begin with.

There are also big name universities and colleges that have gone test optional this season, such as the Ivy Leagues. “Before quarantine I was super scared about testing because it felt like the end-all-be-all of admissions, but with most schools going test optional it has definitely lifted a weight off my shoulders. Although I have been studying and taking tests now to better improve my score, I have the confidence of knowing that I can choose who sees my scores,” senior Nicole Rodriguez said.

However, this does not mean that all colleges are test optional this season. Currently, none of the public colleges and universities in Florida have switched to test-optional policies.

There are still opportunities to take these standardized tests. For the SAT, there are tests available on November 7th and December 5th, and there is an ACT on December 12th. While these tests are too late for some early action and November 1st deadlines, they provide plenty of time for regular decision application deadlines in the spring.
Another major change this season is the lack of, or the drastic change in, college tours. Students typically used this season to conduct in-person tours of colleges, and this is not possible for all students this year.

Alternatively, colleges are offering virtual tours, including the University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Chicago, Boston University, and Columbia University. “College tours have not been a major issue for me. Watching some youtube of students doing a ‘day in the life’ or other virtual outlets is really what I was planning on. This is other than official visits for sports since they are expense-free, those I believe are super important for student-athletes,” senior Mamdooh Abdel Rhim said.

While they cannot replicate an in person tour identically, these tours provide meaningful information about the schools and often include live sessions for potential students to ask questions. 

Few colleges will offer in-person tours this season, so it is important to check the websites of schools to gather more information about dates and registrations.