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Longwood Admission standards adjusted

With COVID-19 having impacted nearly every facet of the average high school senior’s life, colleges are changing some of the ways they approach admissions.

High schoolers have now faced more than a year of COVID-impacted studies from virtual learning to standardized testing. High school extracurricular activities and sports have been altered or canceled as a result of the pandemic.

Even more, students and their families have faced financial and emotional tolls as a result of this year of coronavirus mayhem.

In a student’s senior year, applying for college can be immensely stressful, but the effects of COVID-19 mean many young men and women are turning in applications marred by COVID’s impact on life.

As a result, institutions of higher learning across the country, including Longwood University, are tweaking the way they approach college applications to take into account coronavirus’ influence.

“Each year we assess the overall higher education landscape as we prepare for each new admissions cycle and adjust to changes,” Emily Heady, assistant vice president of student success and retention at Longwood, said Wednesday, Feb. 24.  “For example, we know that fewer students — in part because of the pandemic — who fall in lower income brackets will choose to attend college straight out of high school. One of our goals is to level that playing field, so this year especially, we made awarding a higher-than-normal level of free financial aid a priority.”

Heady said Longwood has recognized a lot of students have struggled to adapt to a virtual setting this year, and some even had trouble accessing the SATs (scholastic aptitude test) or ACTs (American college test).

Because of this, Longwood has made submitting standardized test scores optional and is encouraging students to take advantage of a variety of ways to apply, including through resources like Common App, an undergraduate college admission application that applicants can use to apply to any of more than 900 member colleges and universities.

When asked how admissions officers will be looking at applications this year in the wake of COVID, Heady said Longwood has a holistic review process, reviewing every part of an application to get a look at the complete student.

“For example, if we don’t have a test score to evaluate a student, we might look a bit harder at specific grades rather than the overall GPA (grade point average). If a student is a nursing major, we might look at math/science grades more than in previous years just because we don’t have the SAT to use.” Heady added this approach is nothing new, remarking that Longwood has always looked at the whole person, believing students can’t be quantified by a number or a test score.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Heady said Longwood is aware individual families are all impacted differently by the pandemic and many have had to rethink priorities of higher education.

She said Longwood prepared for a number of scenarios regarding the number of applicants this year. Although the deadline for regular admission was March 1, on Wednesday, Heady said Longwood’s total number of applications thus far had met the college’s goal for this year. She said students have also been depositing applications more quickly this year.

She said Longwood does not anticipate any major changes from previous years in the size of its incoming class.

“We’re really thrilled about how diverse our incoming class promises to be,” Heady said. “While COVID has been difficult and disruptive, we welcome some of the ways the status quo in higher education has shifted. For us, that means we’re seeing a more diverse applicant pool. Increasing the diversity of our student body is a priority for Longwood, so we are very pleased to see this.”