College admissions council president shares latest on applications process amid coronavirus and what students should know

Some universities have delayed the start of the 2020 Fall semester.

April 15, 2020, 2:47 PM

Students and parents may be in need of new strategies and guidance as they navigate the college admissions process amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jayne Fonash, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, joined ABC News' "Pandemic: What You Need to Know" to address some of the growing uncertainty surrounding the college application scramble due to COVID-19.

"The COVID-19 epidemic struck at the time that high school seniors [were] making final decisions about enrollment for their studies for next year," Fonash said. "The landscape is changing every day -- so as college admission counselors and admissions officers we are challenged every day to look at this changing landscape and support students and provide information to help them make these important life decisions."

PHOTO: A teen girl fills out college applications in this stock photo.
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College-bound high school seniors have been directly impacted and are already seeing early implications that some campuses may not be open in time for their first fall semester.

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Boston University told ABC News its recovery plan amid COVID-19 "is focused on the resumption of on-campus, in-person programs in late August."

"We are planning accordingly and will incorporate the best public health practices into those plans so that members of the BU community will feel comfortable and safe on campus upon their return for fall semester," Colin Riley, the school’s executive director of media relations said in a statement.

So what will happen if university and college campuses are still closed when students are set to arrive?

"I think that's probably one of highest priority questions being addressed on college campuses right now because there are so many unknowns and until we have more medical information and more guidance on large gatherings," Fonash said. "They're addressing issues like, 'will we open on time? Will there be a delayed opening later in the fall? Postpone to the second quarter or second semester? Will we open with a virtual campus?'"

"And in addition to those questions about opening the schools, the admissions offices in particular are faced with questions about recruitment of the class of 2021," she continued. "Will they even be able to travel? High school visits? College fairs? All of these questions are being addressed on a daily basis and schools are offering answers as soon as they've been able to make sound decisions."

As for current high school juniors who would potentially be in the beginning phases of their college application process, Fonash suggested staying in the know on all the latest testing requirements.

"I would encourage them to be open-minded and to gather information through virtual platforms and to stay on top of announcements concerning standardized testing, as many colleges and universities are changing the use of standardized testing, at least for the fall of 2020 as they look at the next senior class," she explained.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Boston University announced its fall semester would not begin until January of 2021.

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