College and Graduation Information
Updated April 2, 2020
Senior Class Application Updates
While we’re still waiting to hear from a number of students about their acceptances, we can already say that our seniors have done spectacularly well. On the West Coast alone, we have seen acceptances of various students representing virtually every major campus from Seattle to San Diego, including, but by no means limited to, the University of Washington, Reed College, Oregon State, the University of Oregon, CU Boulder, Stanford, Santa Clara, UC Davis, Cal Poly SLO, UCLA, USC, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer College, Loyola Marymount, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego. On the East Coast, we’ve seen acceptance to Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Yale, NYU, Fordham, Skidmore, George Washington University, the University of Virginia, and many many more.
Changing Admissions Criteria
Most colleges and universities are still formulating how they will respond to our current events, specifically as it relates to current and future applications to their schools. As most of their offices are completely closed, admissions departments remain incredibly fragmented, something further exacerbated by the fact that many reps live hundreds of miles away from the school itself. Understandably, the immediate focus has been on current applicants. Many schools just finished notifying applicants about acceptances, and for the next month, I would expect them to be focused on their yield and incoming freshman classes.
Some schools have already begun to indicate, however, that they will be adjusting the requirements for next year's applicants. Schools of differing sizes and competitiveness, from Harvard to Case Western to Oregon State, have already provided some indication that they intend to change some of the ways in which they approach applications. Many schools, but not all, are waiving their standardized testing requirements for the next application cycle, and the top schools in the country have already acknowledged that they recognize many high schools will need to move to a Pass/Fail model as opposed to letter grades. Students intending to apply to elite colleges should, until further notice, still operate under the assumption that they will need to submit standardized test scores. We will likely have to wait until June or July to see the full details of how each school will handle this novel event, making it all the more important to have a college list prepared by this summer.
Schools with a more "holistic review" are unlikely to be very impacted. They'll know exactly what happened and when it happened, and they'll use that timeline when assessing transcripts and coursework requirements. It is also likely that many schools will ask students to explain in their application how these events affected their education, something they may also ask of counselors, but that's just an idea that has been floated around in some online forums for admissions professionals.
Schools will also look at what an applicant has been able to achieve within the context of their own particular circumstances and the opportunities that their school provides. Students aren't going to be penalized because they went to a school that had limited online options.
With that said, admissions committees will want to see that students used this time productively. In addition to the online learning Riverdale will provide, students could pick up an instrument or a new hobby—or revive interest in an old one. Students should also consider taking online courses, many of which are free, through Coursera, EdX, MIT's OpenCourseware, and other online sources. Be aware that in order for these additional opportunities to show up on a students’ transcript they must produce an official transcript from an accredited school. The one thing that colleges won't want to see is that a student did nothing during this time.
Junior College Resources
We’ve put together a number of spreadsheets that will help students organize their college search and, in the future, keep track of their applications. Those spreadsheets can be found here. Students and parents should consult the instructions section to find out how to make a copy of the document(s) for their personal use.
In the coming weeks, we will also have a new updated Riverdale College Guide that will provide information on all facets of the application process. It will also have a section that will direct students to further outside resources.
Students should always feel free to stay in frequent touch with the college counselor, Robert Lovvorn, to receive feedback on their school lists, school recommendations, standardized testing, financial aid, college essays, and the like.
For the ACT, there is a difference between "national testing" and "district testing". District testing allows school districts to administer the ACT in-house, and it was this test that was originally scheduled for April 7th. ACT has officially canceled all district testing. They are exploring the option of opening up a district testing date in June in addition to the national testing date, but as of right now, nothing has been officially set.
The scheduled June ACT is a national testing date. Students who wish to take the test at this time will need to sign up for an account with ACT and register for the test. Students will have the option of selecting from a number of different testing sites and should pick a location that is closest to where they live.
AP Testing Updates
Students will have the opportunity to take any AP tests for which they have already signed up online. The exam schedule and testing information will be available on April 3rd, but right now College Board is offering free AP Review Classes. All of that information can be located on College Board’s AP COVID-19 Info Page. We will be updating students on AP testing as the information becomes available.
Due to the stay-at-home orders, several students will be unable to complete their final service hours required to graduate. As such, we are adjusting those requirements for students on a case-by-case basis. Students who go out of their way to find unique opportunities during this trying time should report their hours to Robert Lovvorn or Grace Thompson. Many unique service opportunities have included continued volunteering with Youthline, calling into elderly care centers, or sewing face masks. Seniors who were expecting to earn their final hours during Field Studies or at another time during their last trimester should rest assured. We know that students are eager to earn their silver cords for graduation and will accept innovative solutions in light of this novel event.