Coronavirus: The application show must go on!
We hope you are healthy and have settled into the new reality of global coronavirus. While CVD-19 and our global economy continue to dominate the headlines, the school application process continues to progress. In this post, we will address some of the common issues we’ve found in dealing with the new reality of the school admissions process in the midst of a global health crisis. Specifically, we will address applicants who’ve already applied, those who have yet to apply, and provide some general recommendations.
If you’ve already been accepted, good for you! Remember to make your decision, negotiate any financial aid and submit your documents well in advance of the deadline. Right now, many schools are closed and the staff may be working from home, so the sooner you can submit all of your matriculation documents, the better. For the rest of you (likely most of you), I have a few suggestions for how to handle a few common challenges in light of coronavirus:
Several of our Admit Advantage clients have had interviews cancelled or modified from an in-person interview to a virtual interview. While surely this can be disappointing, it’s consistent with most schools’ policy of “social distancing” and is to be expected. Don’t worry about it – most applicants in round 2 and round 3 are going through it, so you will be on the same playing field. If schools have cancelled your interview with no reschedule, check the school website and look out for emails for more information. If it’s unclear if an interview will be offered, reach out to the school directly to inquire. Please be patient as the school staff is being stretched at the moment. If your interview is now a virtual interview, prepare as you would an in-person interview; here is a resource from Admit.me on various interview types.
Admission committees have been disrupted in the middle of their round 2 and round 3 evaluation periods. This means schools are conducting committees virtually, which is far less efficient. Please keep in mind that these committees are working hard to get you a decision, but it may take a longer time than normal. You may have longer waitlist periods and decisions may take a bit longer to get released given the disruption. Be patient – no news is good news. If you haven’t heard back and need to make a decision, reach out to the school directly.
Many acceptance days have been either cancelled or postponed. These are events that give you an opportunity to visit with other accepted students and learn more about the school program. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s somewhat unfortunate, but you just need to step up your networking / outreach game. Here are a few tips to get to know the schools a bit better:
- Reach out to current students you know or find students on LinkedIn who attend those schools and you may have a connection with
- Schools often have student ambassadors – most likely, they are not very busy right now, so now is a great time to reach out
- Exhaust all of the YouTube videos and other content on the schools’ website
- Reach out to current students in charge of clubs and organizations you may be interested in at the respective schools. These folks tend to be quite receptive to speaking with prospective students.
If you’re considering applying this year, you need to reaffirm that the ROI of school in the long-term still makes sense. Candidly, a short-term market disruption is unlikely to change the long-term trajectory of the impact a degree can make on your career, but you need to make sure that’s the case. Assuming it is, forget the noise and focus on what you need to do to get into the best possible school.
Your test timing could very well be disrupted. Tests have been cancelled and the global volume of testing in Q1 is down for many tests are down. Repeat after me: “You can’t control your test date and time, but you can control studying”. Schedule your test ASAP and understand that it may be cancelled or postponed, however, you still need to work towards a date. Assume you will be able to take your test by early summer, so study accordingly. Make sure you’re ready to take the test when the public health issue has subsided; don’t get complacent and wait to prepare. Prepare now and be ready to go!
Official school visits are likely going to be cancelled, limited or postponed over the next several months. Conduct as much of your research online and through outreach and engagement with current students (see above for some tips – Acceptance Days). Delay your school visits until Q3 or Q4 when things have (hopefully) settled down. For now, do your research and make the best decisions you can with the information you have.
Apply in Round 1 (Grad School)
The last few years have seen fewer applications for many graduate school programs due to the strong global economy. However, graduate school is countercyclical with the overall economy and with the challenges in the current economy, applications are likely to go up as fear enters the psyche of the target graduate school applicant. To combat the increased competition, we recommend applying early to take advantage of the early application cycle and the (likely) lower overall competition in round 1 as it will take some time for potential applicants to prepare and submit their applications.
Don’t panic – Stay the course. Don’t let the outside noise change your mind or your focus about applying to school. Use the distractions to your advantage and let the other applicants lose focus while you handle your business and deliver a quality application early in the application process.
Connect with schools. There is likely to be a number of adjustments in events, dates and deadlines. Make sure you are connected with the schools through the website and social media, so you get the latest updates. Don’t be THAT PERSON who is constantly reaching out to the school because of your own insecurities and impatience. If you need to connect with them, do so, otherwise, wait until you hear back from them. Schools are making real-time adjustments, so be patient.
Start early. It’s March, but applications will be out in May / June and first deadlines are in September; the time goes quickly. Get your test scores out of the way and be ready to start the application process in June (assuming you can take the test by then).
Eric Allen is the President and Founder of Admit Advantage, the leading admissions consulting company in the world and Admit.me, a free online admissions resource. He earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and worked on the admissions staff at the University of Pennsylvania. Eric has personally worked with thousands of clients over his 13 years working in the admissions advising space.