8 months ago
Admissions Advice

Will colleges look at mid semester grades differently this year?

Hi, I am a senior right now. Due to the pandemic my school has given the option to us to do virtual school. For some classes teachers have been harsher with grading compared to last year and tests are administered differently. Will colleges take into consideration that we are in a pandemic and that our current grades may not truly reflect who we are? A lot of students have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and it has had an affect on their grades.


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Accepted Answer
8 months ago[edited]

All or most colleges are sensitive, empathetic, and understanding that many applicants can't show evidence that supports accurately presenting the very best version of themselves. Therefore, it is important that you help fill in the missing pieces using your essays or additional information sections or ECs to explain how the pandemic shifted your plan and what adjustments or changes you had to make to continue on your path to be your best version in spite the challenges like online school, lack of sports or clubs, lack of leadership opportunities or employment.

Every single applicant has been affected by the pandemic. Some more than others.

Some have used this as an opportunity to explore different things, take a road less traveled, or venture into a space that previously they were uncomfortable doing. For instance, if you were a Varsity Athlete before and now have no team, perhaps you gave up Lacrosse and decided to focus on running or biking. Maybe you were hoping to be the President of your Student Council ASB but now have used that time and energy to volunteer or start a food bank instead.

What you have to understand is that you are not alone in this. If 50% of applicants submit mid-year grades that are less impressive than the grades they earned while they were in physical classrooms then the admissions office will adjust their expectations for this current class of applicants. If there is very little difference from last year in grades, then you need to hedge your bets and have an essay prepared that specifically addresses your personal challenges and obstacles in a way that doesn't sound like a venting session or rant (I'm not suggesting your question gives off that perception).

Also, keep in mind that the probability that most colleges will continue with online school or Zoom classes is almost certain. I do not feel anyone in higher education feels the US will get to herd immunity on the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of this summer before Fall Semester. So you have to adjust your expectations as well. If you know that you are going to be in online school for 1st semester of college, how can you make sure you are ready for that challenge when it's going to be more of the same.

You need to walk a fine line in explaining your specific unique challenges and how you overcame them or will overcome them if you are struggling with online school.

I wish you the best and hope my note was helpful.


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