Global pandemics have a tendency to interrupt all sorts of plans, events, and social norms, and one of those norms that is evident to members of the Salesianum community is the “college process,” the act of finding a college to continue the next four years of one’s life. This process generally used to be standard; visiting campuses, going on tours, having interviews with admissions counselors – all normal and even expected parts of the process.
However, in a COVID world, colleges are worried about bringing people on campus or sending employees to other states that might not have the same COVID restrictions as their own. Colleges across the country are exploring new solutions to these issues, and the Salesianum class of 2021 has been able to see first-hand how this affects their college decisions.
The college recruiting process normally takes two routes: one for the average student and one for student-athletes. For students, they have been bombarded with college emails since their freshmen year, and at times the college process may become overwhelming to them. They had heard for years about the typical process of visiting campuses and understanding everything the school has to offer from student life to career services, but what was once an expectation of visiting schools has now become a dream of the past.
“The college process has changed for me because I’ve had to rely more on the websites and online resources available to me,” says Dominic Rapposelli ‘21. “Those are okay, but nothing beats going in person and getting a feel for the actual place.”
Virtual tours, information sessions, and even one-on-one meetings with admissions officers have moved to Zoom, and that has left prospective students without a way of fully grasping student life on campus. As Salesian senior AJ Schall points out, “Over quarantine, not visiting some campuses might have changed my college list because I know UD’s campus so well and I don’t know much about life at other schools.”
Another change since the onset of this virulent virus has been the movement towards test optional status by almost all top colleges. “With most colleges going test-optional, admissions offices are really focusing on more qualitative measures to determine if a student would be a good fit for their school,” said senior Jack Ansley. “Students, in turn, have to show more than a good SAT to the colleges they apply to, and have to show that they are well rounded.”
Recruited student-athletes, on the other hand, have a different path towards their college decision. Before COVID, colleges would send recruiters to visit games and scout students. Students could then visit these colleges, interact with coaches and personnel, and eventually get offered either through a letter, email, or phone call. Now, student athletes have to rely on virtual tours, pictures of campus life, and the others’ perspectives to make their decision.
Cal Walsh ‘21, a soccer commit to Brown University, said his decision process has been much different than it would have been a year ago. “Athletes have to use virtual tours, pictures, and word of mouth to determine where they want to spend some of the best years of their lives, without having been able to meet the team or the coaches, see them play, or just experience what life is like at that school.”
Jack Healy ‘21, who committed to Furman University for football, echoed a similar sentiment. “A huge part of the college football recruiting process is going to the teams’ camps where the coaches can evaluate you in person, and this year they couldn’t do that. They had to rely on highlight tapes, which is unfortunate because many kids get college coaches to notice them at the camps. I was very fortunate and thankful that Furman University found my highlight tape and really liked it.”
The Salesianum class of 2021 has some tough decisions ahead of them, and the current global pandemic has not made it any easier. What was once a fairly cut-and-dry decision making process has become a convoluted mess of virtual tours and Zoom meetings. Our seniors, however, feel they are prepared to go through this process no matter what stands in their way, and we wish them the best of luck as they continue being the light beyond the walls of 18th and Broom.