29 DEC 2021
1. Yale University delays its spring semester due to an increase in COVID-19 cases
Yale University has pushed back the start of their spring semester for undergraduate students and the Graduate School of the Arts by one week due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. The university is also shortening spring break by one week to compensate. In response to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, schools across the country have taken similar measures: Syracuse University announced it will also delay its start date by a week, while several universities, including Duke and UCLA, have announced that they will be returning with remote classes for the Spring semester.
Crimson’s Take: We support precautionary measures being implemented to protect against the new COVID-19 variant. Ensuring the safety of students, staff, and faculty on campus is especially crucial during these times; it is excellent that so many universities in the US are prioritizing safety over all else. We hope to see more universities take action to continue protecting their constituents.
2. Enrollment at community colleges continues to decline
In recent years, community colleges across the country have seen enrollment declines because of the public health crisis, economic turmoil, and social upheavals brought on by the pandemic. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, public two-year colleges in the U.S. had nearly 15 percent fewer students this fall than just two years ago. Since immediately before the Coronavirus pandemic, enrollment at Northern Virginia Community College fell five percent. At Prince George's Community College, enrollment dropped 10 percent. At Montgomery College, it plunged 19 percent. These are just a few of the shocking numbers.
Crimson’s Take: For many students without access to financial resources, community colleges and two-year universities can be the bridge after high school on their journey to a four-year institution. It’s disheartening to learn that these universities are seeing such a steep decline in enrolment even as the US begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of our core beliefs is that every qualified student deserves the opportunity to study at the university of their dreams; we can only hope these numbers turn around in the coming months and years as we know what an important stepping stone these institutions can be, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
3. How Stanford's test-optional admissions cycle affected early admissions
Due to the pandemic’s impact on testing, Stanford is not requiring standardized test scores for their application for a second year. Some recent admits say this policy has helped reduce inequities in the application process. Many researchers claim that standardized testing is not an accurate indicator of academic performance for students from underprivileged backgrounds; researchers have found that standardized test results are more indicative of a student's individual opportunities than their academic potential. While officials say the policy is still up for debate, the Stanford community has grown supportive of test-optional admissions.
Crimson’s Take: We expect more US universities to adopt or extend test-optional policies, especially as the new COVID-19 variant surges. However, because admissions officers will still consider submitted test scores, we encourage students to take the SAT and ACT if conditions allow. Either way, students will need to demonstrate their academic ability (usually by way of AP or IB coursework), and they must also stand out in their extracurricular activities and essays in order to be recognized in the US universities' holistic review process.