Juniors college application process changes due to pandemic


Bonita Vista High (BVH) and the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) administration have confirmed that the ongoing pandemic will affect juniors in their college application process. Despite challenges, officials have yet to announce or confirm any changes to graduation requirements for the class of 2022.

Although the current Bonita Vista High (BVH) senior class’ college application process is being shaped by the pandemic, the class of 2022 will also face the effects of the pandemic when applying for college. 

Officials at BVH and the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) explain that the pandemic will affect the class of 2022 relating to the requirement of Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) scores when applying to colleges.  The requirement of community service hours to graduate high school is also expected to change. 

“It’s an unprecedented time, and it’s going to be interesting. There’s a lot of uncertainty for our class of 2022. There’s a question mark over the future. I am confident that we’re going to work through these unanswered questions. I know at the end of the day, what we [the BVH administration] all want to do is support as many students as possible in reaching their post secondary goals,” BVH principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D., said. 

Del Rosario and SUHSD’s Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Ana Maria Alvarez, Ed.D., agree that no matter what changes might be made to the class of 2022’s graduation or admission requirements, the current juniors should continue to focus on their academics and prepare for applying to colleges. Alvarez believes that juniors should challenge themselves academically and take rigorous courses since colleges will continue to look at it as a factor when choosing admissions. Del Rosario added that a competitive grade point average (GPA) will not become less important and impactful for college applications. 

We [BVH] offer such a wide array of A through G, and many of them are Honors, International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP), [which] gives you [an] extra [point towards your] GPA. I really think steps one, two and three are taking rigorous courses and doing what you can to get A’s,” Del Rosario said. 

In addition to improving their GPA, Del Rosario described how performing well in their A through G courses can help the juniors get prepared for the SAT, since the test is being aligned more and more to the Common Core curriculum. However, the University of California (UC) has said that they are not using the SAT or ACT for entrance requirements until 2024; and the California State University (CSU) have not yet decided for the juniors. Due to COVID-19 and California universities not requiring these tests, SUHSD has currently suspended offering the tests, according to SUHSD’s Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction Maria Esther Lizarraga. Lizarraga addressed that if students wish to take the tests later on when schools return to in-person learning, the district can “rethink and revisit” having a school site to offer the exams. 

In past years juniors would typically prepare for the SAT and ACT in numerous ways, including online platforms like Khan Academy and Shmoop; physical books and material and most of all, taking the Practice Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) in October. Alvarez stated that SUHSD still has their partnership with Khan Academy and Shmoop, but the PSAT was not offered in October as it usually is. According to Alvarez, SUHSD is waiting for a final confirmation from the College Board for a potential PSAT date in January. 

“We [SUHSD officials] really think that the PSAT is something that’s solid for students to take. It gives [them] a glimpse of the SAT. It gives [them] a glimpse of what it’s going to look like [and] it simulates the testing environment,” Alvarez said. “And then for juniors, the PSAT also qualifies [them] for the National Merit Scholarship, so we want to make sure that opportunity is offered to our students.” 

In addition to taking the SAT, students have not been able to complete community service requirements due to safety precautions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Community service was suspended for the class of 2020 and is suspended for the class of 2021 for students attending an SUHSD school. According to Lizarraga, SUHSD has a group of teachers, counselors and administrators who got together last year to discuss community service requirements. Lizarraga said that the group plans to reconvene this semester to decide if the requirements will further change due to COVID-19. If the requirement is not removed completely Alvarez believes that the amount of hours may be assessed proportionally for each class, meaning the requirement could be less than the full 30 hours. 

“One of the reasons that our district really appreciates the community service requirement is that it really does help when students are doing personal statements and college preparation,” Alvarez said. “Colleges want to see that you’re involved, you’re part of the community and that you’re making a difference. Community service is one avenue to do that.” 

During this pandemic, all high school students are encouraged to attend virtual college fairs and meetings. For more information on available events, students can contact their counselors and administrators. In addition, students can find information on requirements and events on SUHSD’s website and the BVH website

“Ask questions. Be curious. If you don’t have the answer, look for it. Don’t wait for the answer to come to you. Ask your counselors, ask your teachers. With the internet, you have information at your fingertips as well,” Lizarraga said. “Please, please ask questions, and we can provide answers.”