Thoughts on Heading into Junior Year

The thought of heading into junior year was always daunting. It was already stressful under normal circumstances, but at least it was relatively clear what I needed to do: take the SAT and do well on AP exams. Simple. However, with the additional challenges introduced by COVID-19, more questions regarding my last two years of […]
Jul 19, 2020
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The thought of heading into junior year was always daunting. It was already stressful under normal circumstances, but at least it was relatively clear what I needed to do: take the SAT and do well on AP exams. Simple. However, with the additional challenges introduced by COVID-19, more questions regarding my last two years of high school started to arise. Suddenly, some colleges began to remove the SAT as a requirement and, instead, announced that they would place more emphasis on other aspects of student applications. This threw me into a state of panic and I became extremely uncertain about my next steps. 

Reframing the Situation

However, after my initial stage of distress, I acknowledged that panicking was not a constructive use of my time. I decided to take a moment and put things into perspective. From this brief period of reflection, I realized that I was privileged. I was privileged to have my biggest concern only be about the SAT, a test that, despite its reputation, will not have too large an impact on my future. The stress I faced was nothing compared to the ways that other people have been impacted by COVID-19: being robbed of their senior year, losing a job, or grieving the loss of a loved one. By placing things into context, I had not only reduced much of my anxiety, but I was able to rationally plan out my next few steps. 

Next Steps

My first step was to look into different colleges, especially those that I planned to apply to in the coming year. While researching their renewed requirements for admissions, I created the chart below to better visualise my findings. Through this process, I was able to get a rough sense of whether taking the SAT was still important to me. It was. 

Although I had determined that studying for the SAT will remain a constant and this clarification relieved some uncertainty, I was suddenly at a loss for what the flexible test option would mean for my application. How will my application compare to others who chose not to take the SAT? If less emphasis is placed on the SAT, what do I need to do to boost my application? After some research, I came to the conclusion that my main focus should be on building my participation in extracurriculars. So, I took some time to brainstorm ideas that could boost my application in regards to these features. There are a number of ways to boost the extracurricular side of your application. These include, but are not limited to, the following: 

Athletics 
Soccer, Tennis, Swimming, Track and Field, Basketball, etc
Varsity sports are more favourable as they show higher levels of commitment
Internships
Volunteer Work and Community Service
Student Government
The Debate Team
The Arts
Performing Arts
Band, Choir, Strings, Drama, Dance, etc
Visual arts
Painting, Ceramics, etc 
Culture Clubs
Academic Clubs
Science club, Math club, Writing club, Philosophy club, Humanities club
Academic competitions
Science bowl, American Mathematics Competition, Spelling Bee, Mock Trial, etc
Student Newspaper

Finding the Silver Lining

Gaining a better understanding of my situation and brainstorming my next possible steps was key in reducing my anxiety and ensuring that I start my junior year strong. In addition to these activities, I still felt that I wanted to do more. The privilege that I felt when I stopped to reflect was something that I wanted to act on. So, I decided to give back to the community in a more meaningful way by participating in Relay, a COVID-19 relief internship. This meant more than just an activity to get into college. Working for Relay has allowed me to feel grateful every day as I work to help those who have been less fortunate during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has helped to teach me the important lesson that, in situations such as COVID-19 that bring about extra challenges, it is important to acknowledge that your feelings are valid while also setting things into perspective so that you can overcome the additional obstacles in your way. 

Sources:

Forbes – Updated Testing Policies For Top 20 Colleges During The 2020-2021 Application Cycle

PrepScholar – Which Colleges Aren’t Requiring SAT/ACT Scores for 2020 Admissions?

NYT – More Colleges Are Waiving SAT and ACT Requirements

PrepScholar – Complete Guide: Colleges Not Requiring SAT Scores

Other Student Narratives from the Team at Relay:

Student Interviews Conducted by the Team at Relay:

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