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From exploration and applications to deposits and enrollment, COVID impacted every stage of the admissions cycle—with some students’ process looking entirely different than it would have pre-pandemic and others being less affected by travel restrictions and closed campuses. As with any type of college experience, each student’s journey is unique.

That’s a fact college admissions officers have been hyperaware of. “COVID has been one storm, but people have been in different boats,” says Rick Weissbourd, the faculty director of Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common project, which in 2020 organized a collective statement from more than 315 admissions deans aimed at easing the stress on students heading to college.

Read more about campus tours during the pandemic and how colleges can continue to improve both in-person and virtual tours.

With the in-person aspect fully or partially removed—depending on the institutions of interest, pandemic life realities and campus closures—admissions process contact points were harder to come by. “We did everything in our power to connect with the students, but it was so very hard,” says Morgan L. Rizzardi, director of admissions at Butler County Community College in Pennsylvania. Even now, she adds, students “have disengaged a bit and are a little hesitant to commit.”

The latest Student Voice survey from Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse explored the college choices and experiences of students in the admissions or enrollment process during COVID compared to students who were already in college by spring 2020. Among the 2,001 undergraduates surveyed between Feb. 23 and March 1, 1,120 students fall into the COVID-impacted group. Scroll down for a comparison between these two groups of students during admissions and enrollment and in the aftermath of decisions made.


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