What Rising High School Seniors Think

Survey details opinions of a group of students who were unable to visit colleges for much of the year.

July 6, 2020
 
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Eighty-one percent of rising high school seniors believe they will have a full on-campus experience by the fall of 2021, according to a survey of 2,670 by the Art & Science Group. But the survey found that Asian Americans, low-income students and those who thought they would apply for financial aid were less confident than the respondents as a whole.

That pattern repeats itself in the survey with gaps based on race/ethnicity and income.

Eighty-one percent of the students said they would be more likely to apply to a college that reduced its application fee. But 88 percent of low-income students said they would be more likely to apply to a college that eliminated the fee.

And 58 percent of rising seniors said they had not visited a campus during their senior year. But the numbers were higher for Black, Hispanic, low-income and first-generation students.

While the students hope to visit campuses in person in the coming academic year, they said they would rely on these alternatives for now:

  • College websites: 75 percent
  • Virtual tours: 72 percent
  • Personal email from colleges: 51 percent
  • Virtual Q&A sessions: 46 percent
  • Print material from colleges: 40 percent
  • Virtual college fairs: 37 percent
  • One-on-one virtual meetings: 37 percent
  • Social media: 37 percent
  • Digital advertising: 9 percent

The Art & Science Group's respondents, provided by the College Board, were 55 percent female and 56 percent white.

One-third of the students said they were not hurt in terms of their qualifications to attend college. Of the others, there was a wide range of impacts. Thirty percent said they were unable to do extracurricular activities, and 30 percent said they feared their lack of campus visits would hurt their odds of admissions. Fifteen percent said their grades had suffered, and 12 percent were unable to participate in sports.

And then there are standardized tests. Two-thirds of students said they had yet to take the SAT, and three-fourths had yet to take the ACT. Underrepresented minority students, low-income students and first-generation students were less likely to have taken the SAT or the ACT.

Three-fifths of the students said they would be more likely to apply to colleges with test-optional policies.

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