The Covid Admissions Essay
Are you a high school senior who isn’t sure if you should complete the optional COVID-19 essay on this year’s Common Application? If you didn’t already know about this prompt, which was added to the Common App. this admissions cycle, it reads: “Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N. Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.” So should you answer it? Should you leave it blank? Wonder no more as we’ve got the answer for you.
That Which Is Optional Should Not Be Considered Optional in Highly Selective College Admissions
Of course you should answer it! As we’ve articulated so many times over the years on the pages of this college admissions blog, that which is optional in highly selective college admissions should not actually be considered optional. You think the colleges that have gone test-optional this year don’t still value test scores? That’s cute. You think it’s ok to leave an essay blank if it’s not required? That’s even cuter. When these schools’ admission rates are below 15%, who cares what’s optional? The game is to wow admissions officers at every opportunity. When a college gives you real estate to make your case — in this case, 250 words of real estate — you should use it wisely.
Hear It From the Horse’s Mouth
Still not sure if you should complete this essay? Hear it from the horse’s mouth — from the always candid outgoing University of Pennsylvania’s Dean of Admissions Eric Furda as quoted in The Wall Street Journal: “‘Students should explain as well as they can the context of their lives during Covid,’ says Eric Furda, dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania. ‘That means hunting deep for insight about how Covid affected them, how they were able to derive meaning from it, how it will impact them moving forward.'”
Ivy Coach salutes UPenn’s Furda for his candor. He’s got a real knack for telling it like it is and we appreciate him for it. It’s why he is a longtime hero of this college admissions blog.
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