Seniors rethink the application process as more schools go test-optional this year

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Scot Allen, Associate Director of Communications

The banners of different colleges blow in the wind in unison during Mid-Pacific's 2019 college signing day. Current seniors are finding that the college application process is changing due to COVID-19.

Chelsee Sawai, Staff Writer

With more than 1,550 accredited 4-year colleges and universities going test-optional for the 2021 admissions season, including the University of Hawaii Manoa, seniors at Mid-Pacific are rethinking how to take on the college application process. 

According to FairTest, many colleges have made the SAT/ACT optional for this upcoming school year due COVID-19. 

University of Hawaii Manoa Admissions Counselor Jose Magno said his school will be looking more at the intensity of a student’s schedule and how much they are challenging themselves since they are test-optional this Fall. 

“We’re going to start looking at the quality and the rigor of the student’s courses that they’ve taken in high school as well as their GPA and whether or not the student fulfilled our admissions requirements,” said Magno. 

Since test scores have been stripped from some schools, some students said their confidence about getting in to some schools could go down. 

“I think this year I might be a little less confident just because some colleges are not taking test scores this year so it’s harder to gauge what your chances are of getting into a certain college,” said another Mid-Pacific senior Brandon Lum.

I think one of the worries that everyone has is how do you get yourself represented and how do you show who you are just on a piece of paper.”

— Brandon Lum, Grade 12

From start to finish, the college admission process is a worldwide process of finding a school that fits a student as the applicant. 

“They’re going to be looking at students as in who they are, what they do during and before the pandemic, why do you want to come to this school, and what can you bring to me rather than what can I offer you,” said Reagan Nelson, a Mid-Pacific senior. 

Though Mid-Pacific will stay in virtual learning until Nov. 2, the college counseling team said they are there every step of the way.

“As students are preparing, we are here to support seniors as they go through the process,” said said Mid-Pacific’s director of college counseling, Derrick Kang. 

Class of 2019 students celebrate during Mid-Pacific college signing day. Seniors in the class of 2021 are working with a new admissions process as more than 1,550 schools are now making tests such as the SAT optional. (Scot Allen, Associate Director of Communications)

Seniors have been spending countless hours on their applications and are still going through the process. 

“I try to set aside one day out of the week to focus on college applications and essays just because it makes me feel like there’s a set time I’ll be able to finish things. I think I spend at least 5 hours a week working on it on top of my school work,” said Mid-Pacific senior Paige Ho.

Kang said it helps for seniors to manage their time so that they can spread out their tasks rather than rushing it closer to its due date.

“Timing is really important, it’s important to get things done earlier than later so the longer you take to get things done or seniors wait to get things done, the more stressful the process may be,” said Kang.

Lum said he and other seniors have been concerned as they go through the motions about showing who they are to colleges. 

“I think one of the worries that everyone has is how do you get yourself represented and how do you show who you are just on a piece of paper,” said Lum.

Taking the time to learn more about different schools and what they have to offer is vital to knowing where you want to attend, said Ho. 

“I’d say researching colleges and going to the information sessions because then you’ll get an idea of what schools you want to apply to and what you’re looking for,” she said.

Magno, who reviews college applications for the University of Hawaii Manoa,  said the best advice he has for seniors is to give school their best efforts and to not give up.

“The best thing to do is finish strong,” said Magno.