College admissions during pandemic

Mikey McGuire, Online Editor

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every facet of life, especially for students. One big change in the lives of high school upperclassmen has been the college admission process.  For students, losing in-person school wasn’t the only hurdle, the already compex world of college admissions had to change entirely.


Since the SAT/ACT exams were cancelled last spring, colleges had to change their usual standards with testing requirements and create alternatives.


“Most colleges are now test optional for admission.” college and career counselor Melissa Hurst said “However, they may require a test score for scholarship applications.”


The College Board has not only been organizing SAT tests to be taken in the fall to meet state requirements such as in  Illinois where the SAT is required for graduation, but also to try and meet college requirements before the November/December early admission deadlines.


For JJC, this is still a work in progress.” Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Joliet Junior College Jennifer Kloberdanz said. “We have set benchmarks for ACT and SAT exams that can exempt students from placement testing.  In addition, we have begun using PSAT scores, and high school GPAs as ways to exempt students.”


In order to create a safe and productive testing environment, North administrators have to modify the testing day procedures to accommodate for new restrictions.


The number one [focus] is making sure the environment for all students and staff is the safest possible under the guidelines of the Will County Health department,” Associate Principal Stan Bertoni said. “ A few others [challenges] are  looking at how many students can be in a testing room, how many proctors do we need, and how best to safely get students in the building and into the testing rooms while avoiding gatherings of multiple people.”


Another challenge with admissions has always been the in-person visits to campus. To help accommodate with travel restrictions, many colleges have been offering virtual tours on their websites. 

We wanted to make the experience for students informative and fun,” Kloberdanz said. “We understand that choosing the right college is a critically important decision. And providing a virtual experience that still allows students and parents to see everything that we have to offer was our main objective.”

Typically, these tours incorporate 360 degree photos and interactive text of different points on campus, with all the same information a prospective student  would receive on a regular tour.


 “I think colleges have done a great job trying to come up with creative ways to meet the virtual needs of the Class of 2021,”  Hurst said. “While virtual visits are one way they are meeting these needs, colleges are also coming together to provide information to students in new, innovative ways.


Some colleges are offering limited in person touring but are restricted by state and federal restrictions due to COVID-19. Schools like Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois are not offering in-person visits at this time, but Illinois State University is offering in-person visits that can be scheduled on their website.


The schools that are offering in person tours are following COVID regulations put in by the state, while still offering an informative experience for prospective students.


“The experience didn’t feel much different and I was able to get all the information I need from the tour,” senior Rachel Ybanez said. “They discussed their COVID regulations and how the students have the options of online or in person learning.” 


To help North students with the process, the College and Career Office has organized over 70 virtual tours with representatives from each college to answer questions for students. These events will be held during the school day starting on Sept 22. More information can be found on Naviance.


Information on each individual college’s restrictions and changes to the admission process can be found on their websites, and any individual questions can be directed towards Mrs. Hurst.