When March Madness Isn’t about Basketball
March Madness usually means college basketball playoffs filled with excitement, betting pools and raucous cheering at games. For the past two years, March Madness has taken on a different meaning with last year’s Varsity Blues Scandal and this year’s Coronavirus wreaking havoc on study abroad, college life and life in general. Colleges receive visitors from all over the world and therefore have reacted swiftly to minimize risk to their communities. Many colleges are moving to online classes and encouraging students to stay home after spring break. Here is a full listing of colleges who have closed.
The Coronavirus is also impacting the SATs this weekend as several testing centers have postponed the test to March 28. Arbor Bridge Testing Center published an informative blog regarding the crisis.
- SAT & ACT Cancellations: Some countries have now cancelled the March SAT. You can bookmark the SAT’s page for ongoing updates on country-wide cancellations here, as well as individual site cancellations in the U.S. (of which there is already at least one due to coronavirus). ACT has not yet provided clear, centralized information about possible international April cancellations, but any ACT U.S. cancellations will be available here.
- TOEFL Take-at-Home Test: ETS announced plans to release a version of TOEFL iBT that students can take from home in countries where the test has been cancelled. The test should be available later this month. This move is both to make sure students have access to the test and to head off competition from Duolingo’s at-home-test. For the latest updates on TOEFL and coronavirus, bookmark this page.
- Test-Optional: Colleges may feel increasingly compelled to create temporary or long-term test-flexible policies to accommodate students unable to test. Indeed, the silver lining is that we’ve seen colleges take sympathetic action in response to international crises in the past. And we have every reason to believe they will offer varying kinds of flexibility to affected students in the coming admissions cycles.
- Student & Digital Learning: As schools worldwide shut down and education rapidly shifts online, teachers and students are on a steep learning curve, and students are feeling isolated. This is a time for all of us to check in with our students and find out what they need to feel supported and connected.
While the crisis is real, the key is how to stay calm when march also brings the standard worries about admissions for high school seniors. As admissions decisions start to trickle in, remember that everyone is in the same boat of uncertainty. Here are some tips for how to manage this year’s March Madness.
- Stay flexible. Flexibility applies to how you’ll gather information about schools if you can’t visit them a first or second time in addition to being open to all your options. For seniors, you can speak with current students, watch university videos and reach out to faculty with any lingering questions to help you decide. Now that classes have moved online for many institutions, you may have the opportunity to attend class from home. Ask colleges if that is a possibility to help you decide.
- Evaluate communication from various schools. This is a great opportunity to see how your prospective school may respond to a crisis. Are they communicating with students and families well? What sort of contingency plans have they put in place? How does their reaction align with your needs?
- Reassess your own needs. Nobody could have predicted the Coronavirus, but every year there is something that catches colleges and their communities off guard. Think about what is important to you? Do you want to be far away from home or closer to home? What is the best environment for you to thrive? Have your academic interests remained the same? Do you want to be close to a major hospital?
- Practice resiliency. Once the admissions decisions come in, even if they are not what you had hoped for or anticipated, be grateful for your options. Look for the positive in your acceptances and realize that life is filled with ups and downs, much of which you don’t have control over. But you do have control over how you respond and make the best of each situation.
Celebrate your success. You’ve worked hard over the past four years and should celebrate getting to this milestone. By the time you start college, the coronavirus will (hopefully) be a distant memory.