CAUTION: Disruption Dead Ahead

SlowDown.CreativeMarbles2012

Soon-to-be Class of 2021 college applicants are delayed in engaging the college admissions process as it was defined pre-March 2020. With cancelled SAT and ACT tests this past spring, closed high schools and college campuses, no sports games sidelines or Science Olympiad stands where parents can congregate and share notes about college admissions, fewer high school juniors made vigorous progress in their college planning. 

Typically, during the spring of high school junior years, students take SAT’s/ACT’s, then start comparing their scores to their peers trying to size up the competition, as well as admissions stats at colleges to predict their chances for admissions. Then, during Spring Break, students often travel around the US to investigate college campuses. Also, the lively chatter amongst student networks both at school and virtually on social media, as well as amongst cohorts of parents, usually creates frenzied college admissions activity. 

In addition to the public health emergency delaying their college admissions process, the admissions requirements have also changed to reflect that disruption, adding complexity to their planning. Given the proliferation of test-optional policies, where applicants are no longer required to submit SAT or ACT scores, applicants now are questioning how to best demonstrate their ability. Also, Class of 2021 college applicants are now missing the metric of scores to predict how they may align with students already attending a particular college, complicating the process of selecting colleges. 

Furthermore, since many juniors had little or inconsistent contact with teachers through the spring 2020 semester, some admissions officers have broadened the definition of who can provide required letters of recommendation, which have traditionally have been restricted to academic teachers. Also, it can be readily assumed that admissions officers will likely be more subjective in their application evaluations, as we discussed in Fall 2021 Admissions Polices Turned Upside Down, thus applicants will need to more judiciously select their recommenders to provide the most accurate portrayal of their experiences, a testament to their potential. 

Many students will need additional advising, in a time when due to on-going shutdowns of public and private schools, is in short supply, in order to amend their college admissions strategy to account for the varied policy changes at universities around the US. Seeking to compare to parents’, siblings or older friends will be ill-fitting to the magnitude of the disruption to the admissions process for Fall 2021. Thus, families should plan to be more robust in seeking alternative sources of advising in order to remain competitive for what is shaping to be an unprecedented admissions season.


 A University of California San Diego and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly so clients succeed. For more information about how Jill and the Creative Marbles team helps families, click here

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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