A Student’s Guide to the Quarantined College Search: Get Advice Straight From Admissions Professionals

We recently hosted a webinar alongside college admissions professionals in order to help give students perspective into how colleges and universities are adjusting their admissions and recruiting processes in light of COVID-19. Joining our panel were:

Tallo’s VP of Partnerships, Ben Martin, moderated the panel, asking questions submitted by students. Here are some of the most popular questions and responses from our panel.

“How have things changed from an admissions and recruiting perspective since COVID-19?”

Our panelists acknowledged that it has been difficult to transition to virtual events and recruiting, but they feel lucky to live in a time where we are able to host nearly anything online. The panelists’ schools have all transitioned to online informational sessions for accepted students  and are connecting prospective students with professors, alumni admissions professionals, and current students virtually . But there are some specific challenges. For example, Lauren M. Carballo from The Webb Institute stated that part of the uniqueness of Webb is the fact that every applicant is required to do an overnight visit. The panelists also advise students to check their school’s visiting page or reach out to the school and ask to speak to an admissions representative directly since there are still people there to answer questions. 

“How would you best recommend students be more proactive during quarantine?”

Our panelists recommend researching colleges and universities you may be interested in during this time at home. Visit their websites and do a virtual tour. Then reach out to the admissions office and ask questions or request to be put in touch with a current student. Contacting your local admissions representative gives you a point of contact at the school and provides a resource to help with any questions you may have. Jonathan J. Hoster from Syracuse University also suggested asking to meet with admissions representatives virtually to find out if the school that you are interested in is the best fit for you. And since keeping up with all of the contact points and messages or research from each college can be daunting, Lauren O. Wallace from The University of Pittsburgh suggested making a separate email address for college-related emails, so that you are not overwhelmed by them in your normal inbox. 

“A lot of the questions we got from students when they registered for this webinar was regarding how their extracurriculars were cancelled this spring. What would you tell students to consider when they’re applying to explain this ‘dead zone’ and how will you respond as an admissions recruiter to it?” 

Our admissions panelists agreed they won’t hold it against you. We are all in the same boat, and they are reading applications with this in mind. They won’t be surprised to see that you aren’t participating in a spring sport this time around. It is important to show off what you’re currently doing during quarantine. And they’d love to see a positive spin on it. If you are helping in a different way (virtually!), they would love to hear about it. Are you balancing many things? They appreciate that. Tell them about what it says about your character. They also added that they are anticipating getting admissions essays that are unlike any before, which they are excited about. They also were adamant that this won’t be a deficit for current juniors who are applying next year, they just want to hear about how you are making the most of this unprecedented situation. This can be your chance to be innovative and really show your creativity!

“What you are planning to do from an admissions standpoint about standardized testing, since many test dates have been cancelled or moved. How is this affecting students’ chances?” 

Our panelists mentioned that their schools are still requiring SAT or ACT for admittance, but are understanding that testing sites have been closed. They are continuing to reevaluate as they go on, but since most of their students would have taken the test before their deposit deadline, they haven’t seen too many students impacted. However, Jonathan J. Hoster from Syracuse University provided us with a list of schools that have extended their deadline here

“How early can you apply to school? Can you start your application now?”

One suggestion was to look at the previous year’s Common Application’s questions and essay prompts. The school-specific questions won’t go live until August 1st, but our panelists suggest practicing your essay writing and have a mentor look over it. And just a helpful reminder that schools with rolling admissions do not put precedence over those who apply in August versus those who apply in September, so do not rush the process. 


To learn more, watch a recording of the webinar here. And to connect with colleges, companies, and over $20 billion in scholarships, sign up for Tallo. It’s easy. Just create a profile, highlight all of your accomplishments, and be seen.

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