How COVID-19 Will Affect The 2020 College Admissions Cycle

For students who have already applied to university and are eagerly awaiting their admissions responses, there is a growing worry that the coronavirus will affect admissions decisions. Princeton attempted to reassure students that this would not be the case last Tuesday, tweeting: “Please note: The coronavirus outbreak and its effects have no impact on how we evaluate applicants to the University. Every application will receive our full consideration.”

But the worry remains that universities will see a decrease in international student enrollment as a result of the coronavirus. For the large number of universities who depend on their high number of international students to pay full tuition, this could have serious economic ramifications in the coming semesters. One third of all international students studying in the U.S. are from China, and the school and test cancellations as a result of the virus will no doubt disrupt the admissions cycle.

Standardized test sites have closed nationwide in much of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Though College Board has two more international administrations, one in May and another in August, the lowered access to standardized testing may result in lower quantities of international applicants. China’s National Education Examinations Authority canceled English tests for the IELTS, TOEFL, GRE and GMAT, all of which are necessary for graduate school applications. On their website, College Board writes that they “have notified higher education institutions and they are also closely monitoring the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation.”

For students who have already been admitted for fall semester, many schools are cancelling admitted students’ weekends. Harvard announced last Friday that spring admitted students’ weekend would be cancelled and occur online, including online events and videos called “Virtual Vistas.” MIT, Georgetown, Princeton, and many other universities have also cancelled admitted students’ days and more. These cancellations accompany announcements of cancelled classes, study abroad programs and many colleges sending their students home until further notice.

The National Association for College for Admission Counseling joined with ACT, College Board, Common App and IB in “encouraging support for those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.” Some schools, like the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are already extending their deadlines.

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