2020 is a year like no other. COVID-19 has drastically altered every aspect of our lives, including college admissions.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how college admissions will change in light of COVID-19, and look at how the UK handled their admission process.
The UK Situation
In the UK, the most important tests a student takes are their A-levels. These test scores determine the universities these students will be accepted into. This year, due to COVID-19, all A-levels were canceled.
The UK needed a new way to evaluate students, so they relied on teacher recommendations. Teachers in the UK predict their student’s A-level scores and these predictions were used by universities to determine where a student will be accepted.
However, these recommendations were highly inflated. So the UK attempted to create an algorithm to knock down some of these grade inflation.
This algorithm, however, was biased. The algorithm hurt students from large public schools and benefitted students at small, independent private schools.
This situation resulted in public outcry. While many across the UK protested the algorithm, universities were already sending out letters of acceptance to students who benefitted from the algorithm. By the time the UK decided to scrap the algorithm and return to just evaluating teacher recommendations, most students had already picked their university.
Now the UK has a problem: there are too many qualified candidates for top universities than there are spots. Additionally, some students have already accepted a spot in a lower-tier university before the decision was reversed. And now when their teacher recommendations are high enough to put them in a top tier university, they’re already stuck in a previous commitment.
The U.S Situation
How will the U.S learn from the mistakes plaguing the UK?
Most likely, with missing test scores and junior year GPAs for most students, colleges will have to rely on soft, holistic evaluations such as a student’s essays and teacher recommendations.
Will this eliminate bias? Probably not. As we move into other metrics that aren’t grades and tests, the admissions process doesn’t necessarily become fairer. Students who go to smaller schools will likely have a closer relationship with teachers, often resulting in better letters of recommendation.
The UK scenario shows us that when a test is scrapped, it doesn’t make the admissions system any fairer. Sometimes, it can become worse.
Our advice for college seniors applying this year: stay positive. While everything may seem up in the air right not, keep being persistent and motivated.
Where you got to college does not define you. Keep your head up. Everything will work out in the end.