College Applications during COVID


Conor McArdle

Peddie seniors attending class outdoors amidst the covid-19 pandemic.

Zoe Chao '23, Junior Co-Editor-in-Chief

It’s that time of the year when seniors are applying to college, but this time, during a pandemic. With COVID-19 cases reaching over a million and continuing to grow in New Jersey, Peddie has taken many precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. This entails that our student population is dispersed across the globe, with some taking their classes online. With stress already piled high, seniors face an additional barrier when applying to colleges.

Most seniors describe their stress level as reaching an all-time high. “Not only are there expectations from outside factors like family, but there are also a decent amount of expectations I have for myself. I put in a lot of work towards getting good grades and having my essays be as polished as possible,” said Nathen Ho ’21. 

Seniors’ stress is compounded by others receiving their early decision and early action results. Due to increased applicant pools across the board, “early applications have already shown to be incredibly volatile. Just recently, Harvard deferred 79.5% of early applicants – that makes an already stressful process even more stressful,” said Yulia Gu ’21. 

Since the pandemic put many families in a socio-economically disadvantaged situation, many students cannot afford college tuition, rendering massive amounts of stress during the application process.  

Another significant challenge facing many seniors is the inability to visit prospective schools. Although most colleges offer virtual tours of the campus, they are not comparable to in-person experiences that allow one to realize if a school is the right fit for them.  “For me to really judge a school, the atmosphere and environment are extremely important and it is hard to get those from Zoom info sessions,” said Julia Finkle ’21. 

Yet another difficulty seniors face is being able to balance college applications with school work, extracurriculars, personal free time, etc. “ I personally since last fall had trouble establishing a work and sleep schedule so my work was kind of all over the place, but since finding my rhythm, it has been a lot easier to get tasks done on time and in an orderly fashion,” said Ho. 

While acknowledging the challenges, seniors this year have also mentioned the benefits: test-optional applications, more free time, extracurricular activities beyond the bounds of a school campus, etc. Overall, attending school online added an extra layer of stress to college-bound seniors, but it also yielded some positive benefits.