National data shows fewer students applying to college early during COVID-19 pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. -- If you have a child who plans to attend college next year, you don't have to be told that the pandemic has changed the application landscape.

What normally would have been a summer spent by rising high school seniors touring college campuses instead became virtual tours via home computer for many.

Shery Boyles, the admissions director for Meredith College in Raleigh said that admissions officials at colleges and universities understand the additional anxiety students are experiencing this year.

"The pandemic has just had an incredible impact on college admissions. Things that have been sacred through the years to college admissions no longer exist this fall," said Boyles.

She says through all the craziness of the past eight months, college admissions staff across the nation have been preparing for the application season.

"Even though we're in the middle of a pandemic, we are here for them," Boyles said.

Although some colleges and universities have already ended their early action application period, many have extended their deadlines.

"The advantage to applying early action is that you're going to get a decision from a college sooner. You're going to know what your college options are," Boyles said. "You will have longer to work through the financial aid process."

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But Boyles didn't want to discourage students from applying during the general admission process.

She is already seeing national data showing a decline in applications--especially among one group.

"It is particularly down with first-generation college students," Boyles said. "That is not good for our society. That's not good for the communities. And so the pandemic is definitely having an impact."

Boyles says families with generations of college graduates often find it easier to navigate the application process.

But, she added, that's no reason for first generation students to throw in the towel. "I want to stress the importance of students not self-selecting out of the college application process because they feel isolated. There are people who will help you through the process," Boyles said.

You can also find help additional help with applications at the Common App organization's website.
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