Waived tests, new deadlines: pandemic alters UI admissions process for prospective students


The Daily Illini File Photo

Prospective students and their parents take a tour of campus on March 6, 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the admissions process at the University.

By Aliza Majid, Staff Writer

Prospective students received their admission letter from the University on Feb. 19 with new process alterations because of the pandemic.

Catherin La, an incoming freshman, is one of the many students who have been struggling to get through the academic year as the pandemic continues to interfere with their everyday lives. College applications were no exception to this issue as students struggled to complete necessary requirements in order to apply to colleges.

“It was definitely more difficult to complete applications. I think because of the stress of doing school all online the first semester and having to do college apps it was much harder. I think that with standardized testing, my ACT got canceled three times. It was kind of frustrating trying to get an ACT score even though I know a lot of schools are test-optional,” La said.

Amid COVID-19, the college administration process has changed in order to accommodate students during these unique circumstances. Students are no longer required to submit their standardized test scores and deadlines were altered to aid students in their application process.

“During a global pandemic when students can’t take the SAT/ACT, can’t visit the campus and for many, (they) are still taking their high school classes fully remote, it has been difficult to anticipate how this admissions cycle will play out,” said Andy Borst, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

The University opened up its submission period on Sept. 1 for all applicants with the early action deadline extending from the original date of Nov. 1 to Nov. 15. The early action notification period was removed in order to give the University more time to assess applications.

“We delayed the release of admission decisions for early action applications to the same time as our regular decision applicants,” Borst said. “Students who applied by the early action deadline were given priority consideration for our most competitive programs, honors and merit scholarships.”

Students applying all received their notification about their admission status on the same day regardless of their application deadline. 

“I did apply early action but everyone’s decisions came at the same time,” La said. “I know when you apply early action you usually get your decision back in December but having to wait like an extra two months was kind of nerve-racking.”

The University decided to omit standardized testing for students applying for the Fall 2021 freshman admission due to the pandemic limiting opportunities for students to take the exams. This exception was made for one year in order to accommodate this current situation.

“I think that it actually positively impacted me because I’m generally not a great standardized test taker so I didn’t submit my score but my GPA was pretty solid,” said Naseem Haleem, a prospective student in GIES. “I think it definitely helped me out because if I had to submit my score I’m not sure that it would have been that great. I think it would have hurt my admission honestly.”

Students are now waiting on any potential scholarships that will be available to them by April 1 and send in their decision by May 1.

“Many students were admitted to highly competitive programs without test scores. Students’ performance in rigorous core academic classes and their ability to articulate meaning from their experiences played a larger role in our decisions,” Borst said.

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