Dear High School Student (and Parent):

We all have been affected by this extraordinary and unprecedented year.

We all have been affected by this extraordinary and unprecedented year. Our lives have been upended and changed like nothing we have ever experienced in our lifetime. The impact of COVID-19 hit hard, and affected you socially, academically and perhaps future planning for your post high school plans. No doubt, this has been extraordinarily stressful. The best way to think about this is to manage what is in your control.

How to Plan for University

Because of COVID-19, this makes the most unusual planning for post- secondary/university search of all time. Today, juniors and seniors have the daunting and frustrating task of registering for standardized tests (ACT/SAT/Subject Tests) that allegedly predict your future. 

Many of you have experienced the difficulty in securing a spot for these tests. There have been numerous cancellations, extreme disappointment and on top of it all, you have prepped like crazy, whether on your own or with a test prep company. When you register, you have no clue if the test will be a go or not. 

What is in Your Control

The other piece in your control is your college list. While many schools have gone Test Optional/Test Blind, you need to determine, based on the list you created, the school’s requirements. You can determine your college list based on which schools require standardized tests.  If you want or even need to take any standardized tests think about rearranging your list based on healthy options. It appears that only three states remain that are requiring these tests, Florida being one. 

Here is what we know. Right now, according to Fair Test (, over 1550 universities are taking a test optional/test blind path. This means that universities (some of these universities include the Ivies, high profile schools like University of Chicago, University of California schools, our schools here in Colorado). This means that schools will give you, the student a choice as to whether you want to submit your test scores (if you have scores). These schools will focus on other aspects of your application such as academic record, Letters of Recommendation, extracurricular activities, and perhaps interviewing. Test Blind means the schools won’t even look at your scores.

If you feel compelled to take a standardized test, then do this: call the school where you will take the test, talk to the test administrator, ask these questions: 

  • Will students and proctors be wearing masks throughout the testing experience? 
  • Will there be temperature checks before walking in the door? 
  • Will students be safely distanced from one another in the testing center? 

Here is a direct quote from Lee Coffin at Dartmouth: 

“Optional” is not a trick word. It is not a wink that signals a continued institutional preference for the upcoming admissions cycle. This is not a moment for euphemisms or gimmicks; there should be no parsing of intent with this amended testing policy. It is a clear response to an unprecedented moment that requires admissions officers to reimagine some of the elements we have historically required as we reassure anxious students about their upcoming applications. Worries about oversubscribed test sites, anxiety regarding limited registration access and the incongruity of test prep during a quarantine can be set aside. 

Paraphrasing highly esteemed Jon Boeckensteck, Vice-Provost of Enrollment at Oregon State University- Management who sent the quote from Lee Coffin. There truly is no need to put one’s health at risk. He actually returned my phone call to confirm this. He will call you if you want to talk about it. Just let me know, I will give you his phone number. This is what is meant by what is in your control- your health and your future.

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