COVID-19: The latest news impacting our college-bound kids

The latest news/Q&A (LAST UPDATED 9/11/2020)…

These are strange times to be sure! We wanted to have a place where we can share the latest COVID-19 news related to changes in the high school/college landscape. The situation is fluid. We’ll use this blog post to include frequent updates as we learn of them.

Keep scrolling to read about how At The Core is adjusting to serve our families best in these times of social distancing.

What is the status of future end-of-course exams in Ohio?

A bill has been introduced in the Ohio Senate seeking to waive this year’s end-of-course exams & state testing requirements. Some believe students need to be assessed to see how they are doing. Others say they have enough to worry about now without testing. We’ll keep an eye on this legislation.

What changes on college campuses are anticipated for next semester in the spring?

Ohio State announced the cancellation of spring break for 2021 on 9/11/20. Purdue will have a later start date and eliminate spring break as well. We assume other colleges will follow (if they haven’t already).

Back-to-school resources:

Will NCAA Division I and II athletes be required to provide an ACT or SAT test score?

News we have been waiting for! “Students who initially enroll full time during the 2021-22 academic year and intend to play NCAA Division I or II athletics will not be required to take a standardized test to meet NCAA initial-eligibility requirements.”

What is the status of PSAT testing?

The College Board is giving school districts three different date options for this fall’s administration of the PSAT exam–10/14, 10/17, & 10/29. Districts can choose to administer the test across two dates. A future potential date this winter may be announced later this month.  The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has not made a COVID-19 related statement regarding what happens if students cannot take the PSAT test. They do have a process in place for students unable to test in the past. Read more in the section “if a student misses PSAT/NMSQT® test administration.”

“Hot topics” on parents’ minds right now:

  1. Online learning – How effective is it? As expected, it depends on the child and the school. This article looks at some of the studies done surrounding online learning vs traditional in-person schooling. This piece has some good tips on how to choose an online school. can be a resource for checking out the different school options. Click here for the Ohio list of highly ranked schools. This list is nationwide.
  2. College Credit Plus – College Credit Plus (CCP) participation requires an intent to participate form every year. This form enables a qualifying student to take CCP classes in summer 2020, fall 2020, or spring 2021. It was due in May. (Usually, it is due in April; however, there was an extension this year.) Without a form, you must request participation by contacting your building principal. Here is the Ohio code wording about steps in that process. We have no idea if Ohio principals will approve the requests for CCP without a family having provided the letter of intent form back in May. (Side tip we must add: please, please, please add a reminder to your calendar for February 1 of every year to look for and complete the CCP intent to participate form. There is no downside to getting the form in to your counselor each year.) If approved for CCP, then your child will need to prove they qualify to participate in one of a few different ways. Included among these ways are scoring a remediation free ACT or SAT test score. That is not the only way to qualify. You can find the complete list here. This past spring, the Ohio Department of Education issued some extenuating circumstances that would allow a student to qualify for CCP. If a new student cannot test because of the ongoing pandemic for fall term eligibility and admission consideration, they can qualify by having an overall high school GPA of 3.0. (The complete CCP state COVID-19 guidance can be found here.)
    Because of all the uncertainty as we write this, CCP may not be an option for many families for this fall or spring and may need to be put off until summer 2021.
  3. Clubs and activities in a time of COVID-19 – Yes, some of the clubs and activities that students would typically participate in might cease depending on COVID-19 and local conditions. Most schools won’t be in a position to offer a replacement. Time to think outside the box. This article gives a few ideas of how extracurricular activities can look different now. Remember, when it comes time to apply to college, all students will have the same “gaps” in their applications when the usual activities were not an option. Being able to tell a college about what you choose to do instead can be powerful.
  4. Volunteering – Volunteering in person is difficult at this time. Our Summer Opportunities web page has a section devoted to volunteering which includes some search sites to help you search for ideas. (Some of these activities have been impacted by COVID-19.) This site has specific online volunteering opportunities–be sure to pay attention to age requirements. This piece has a few teen-specific ideas.
  5. Foreign language via “Committed Distance Learning” – Every district has slightly different offerings for those choosing committed distance learning for school this fall. Foreign language may or may not be offered. Our own home district of Olentangy just changed their minds last night (7/29/20), and we anticipate foreign language will be available. Most colleges require a foreign language for admission. (Remember, language is not required to graduate HS in Ohio.)What to do? Remember, the majority of colleges only ask for 2 years of a language. Your new freshman will still have time to complete that before graduating. The most highly selective colleges may recommend (or some even require) more than 2. Stanford asks for 3. Harvard recommends 4. Case Western here in Ohio only requires 2. MIT only 2. You can see there is a wide range. (Google “college xyz foreign language requirement” to see a particular school.) If really in a pickle, an option for picking up a missing year would be to take a language via College Credit Plus over a summer.

Will college campuses be opening in the fall?

Our favorite list of college plans for the fall is posted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. They are keeping a searchable list on this page. You can also scroll from page to page by clicking their “page 1 of 57” link on the right-hand side.

Some high profile colleges like Harvard and Princeton will be online only. (Princeton has chosen to offer a 10% tuition discount. Harvard has not!) Columbus State Community College here in Central Ohio will be primarily online as well which has an impact on our College Credit Plus dual enrollment students.

Students (and parents!) rightfully may be dealing with extra anxiety about this year and the unknown. This piece has some great tips to prepare and deal with it pointing out that anything beyond our control will always cause us to be anxious. Having a plan can help a bit.

Ohio’s governor issued guidance for Ohio’s 167 colleges and universities.

And what we fear may become a trend, the Ivy League has cancelled football this fall. They are the first D1 conference to announce the suspension of fall sports. The Big Ten hopes to play football this fall, but only against other Big Ten teams.

What about K-12 schools reopening?

Lots of national discussion about K-12 schools and their plans to open. It really is a delicate situation. “The devil’s in the details” as reported by NPR. We want our kids in class but worry about what they (and the teachers/staff) will be exposed to–the unknown of what could result.

Ohio’s governor issued guidelines for K-12 schools to reopen leaving much of the finer details to the school districts themselves. The governor stressed the importance of assessing symptoms daily, frequent hand washing, sanitizing stations, cleaning surfaces regularly, and social distancing.

Some local districts have issued their plans like Hilliard and Dublin among others. Both include an option for parents to opt in to a completely online academy. (Pay attention to due dates. The ones we saw were before the end of July.)

When will AP exam scores be announced?

The College Board says that AP exam scores will begin to be released on July 15th. The release date depends on your state of residence. If your exam was not submitted on the original test date, your results will be delayed.

The Princeton Review took a look at how students have done so far on two of the exams as compared to how students did last year. On those two exams, students performed better than in 2019. College Board’s Senior Vice President of Advanced Placement, Trevor Packer, is posting summaries of how students did overall for each exam on his Twitter account.

Will Ohio State be offering in person visits in 2020?

Ohio State has announced they have cancelled all in-person visits and events scheduled through December 2020. This page has details about all their virtual visit options. Dates are available for one of four possible virtual events.

In Ohio, how will future graduating classes (2021 & beyond) be impacted by the lack of end-of-course exams?

At the end of this past school term, end-of-course exams were cancelled. In Ohio, students are required to take certain exams in specific courses like Algebra in order to graduate. We were left wondering if the students would need to take those exams at a future date. The Ohio legislature has ruled:

Recently enacted legislation (HB 164 – Section 12) allows districts and schools to substitute an eligible student’s final course grade in an eligible course for the corresponding high school end-of-course examination. Substituting course grades will ensure minimal disruption to a student’s education experience by eliminating the need to take the missed examinations for the purposes of graduation. Students who completed qualifying courses in the 2019-2020 school year also may elect to take the associated end-of-course examinations in a future administration. For example, students who took algebra I in spring 2020 have the choice to either substitute their final course grades for a corresponding point value or performance level on the algebra I end-of-course exam or take the exam in a future year and use that test score.

The Department of Education page lists how the course grade will be valued.

Do you know if ACT/SAT testing will go on during this time?

In June 2020, ACT announced the addition of more test dates in September and October. Registration will open the last week in July. You can find the latest test schedules on our web page.

In late May, ACT published the list of test centers that would be closed for the June 13 test date. In late June, ACT posted their list of  closed test centers for the July 18 exam date. Students are being notified by email of all cancellations. Be sure to request your refund.

On 4/15/20, the College Board announced the cancellation of the June 6 SAT exam and Subject Test sittings. (The May 2 SAT had already been cancelled back in March.) Monthly exam dates will begin in August, and exams will be offered in September, October, November, and December. Registration for SAT test dates is now open to all. They may offer a testing date in January 2021 if there is demand for one.

On 6/2/20, SAT announced they would NOT be offering an online option in the fall as they originally hoped to do.

ACT is discussing an online option that they are calling “remote proctoring.” It is unclear when this at home testing option will be available. ACT hopes for late fall/early winter. The original section retake option will not roll out in September as planned, but will also wait until 2021.

“Dr. Sam” (Srinath Sampath of PrepAccelerator) had a good share about test prep during this time: “Students, please make the most of the downtime and reduced school hours to push hard on the ACT and SAT. When school reopens, there will be a sense of urgency for educators, parents, and students to catch up with school work, so focused prep during the next few weeks will go a long way in reducing stress thereafter.”

Brian Stewart of BWS Education Consulting also shared his thoughts on our current testing environment.

Are there plans for the state-sponsored ACT and SAT exams that were cancelled in Ohio?

Possibly yes. In the spring, many Ohio school districts had to cancel their state-sponsored ACT and SAT exams that they would have provided free to juniors (class of 2021). The Ohio Department of Education is trying to reschedule these missed exams for September or October.

Will application deadlines change this fall?

Possibly. On 6/4/20, the University of Virginia announced they would be “test optional” for fall applicants, and they would be pushing back their Early Decision deadline to November 1st. It usually is on October 15. We’ll need to keep an eye on additional deadline changes as colleges attempt to give students more time.

Is there somewhere that I can find at-a-glance info about colleges and whether or not they have extended deadlines, admitted student events, AP/IB decisions regarding credit, testing requirements for fall applications, etc.?

NACAC, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, is providing a searchable spreadsheet with about 1,038 colleges on it (54 in Ohio) as of 6/5/20.

Will the Common App in the fall include any changes because of COVID-19?

On 5/12/20, the Common App announced they would be adding an optional question to the application as a result of COVID-19. This question is truly optional and only meant to provide a forum for students who have had to overcome hardships due to the virus interruption. The question will read:

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N. Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

The answer’s length will be limited to 250 words. This question will be in the Additional Information section where students are invited to share more about themselves.

Counselors will also have a question in their counselor forms to tell Common App about how COVID-19 affected their school–ex. grading policies, testing changes, graduation requirements, etc.

Can students still apply to colleges?

Yes! On 5/5/20, NACAC released their list of colleges who are still accepting freshmen and/or transfer applications for this fall. Students who want to change their minds about going far away and want to stay closer to home can still apply.

How are colleges handling gap year requests?

This answer, as with so many others, is it depends on the school. All colleges are worried about high numbers of gap year requests called deferrals. Will too many deferrals cause too much of a funding gap? Will deferrals put too much of a squeeze on fall 2021 openings?

We found that Wesleyan University had a fairly typical approach among those colleges that have actually defined their policy. (Some are still playing wait and see.)

Their policy is: If fall term on campus is closed, students may choose to defer until spring (granted automatically) or fall 2021 (by request). You’ll note fall 2021 is not automatic. Students who don’t wait until the college’s official decision about fall plans have a specific deadline (July 10) to request a gap year, and Wesleyan will have until July 17 to approve or not. (Other schools have earlier deadlines.)

They go on to say: The request to defer must include the student’s specific plans as well as an acknowledgement that they will not enroll full time at another institution during the deferment. (Indiana U does not allow more than 11 credit hours during the deferment period. Their business program is not allowing deferments at all so more popular programs will be harder or impossible to get a deferment from.)

Wesleyan also included this: “While we will aim to accommodate as many requests as possible, out of consideration for current high school juniors, we may need to limit the number of gap year requests that are approved.”

Parents need to consider what the gap year would look like. Will students be able to find a job in a time of high unemployment? If travel is restricted, will students be able to participate in those organized travel experiences? Will students lose a bit due to brain drain between leaving high school and entering college? Lots to think about!

How will pass/fail grades be considered by the NCAA in D1 and D2 sports eligibility?

On 4/17/20, the NCAA issued some changes to D1 & D2 eligibility rules impacted by COVID-19. Usually a “pass” grade (instead of a letter) would be ranked as a “D” potentially hampering the GPA. Now they are trying not to penalize anyone. Here is their statement:

“For courses completed in spring and summer 2020 with a “pass” grade, the Eligibility Center will apply the credit earned in those courses toward the core-course requirement. If the core GPA would increase by assigning a value of 2.3 (the minimum GPA to qualify to compete in Division I), that value will be assigned to passed courses. If the 2.3 mark would decrease the student’s overall GPA, the core-course GPA will be calculated based only on courses with assigned letter grades from other available terms. This policy will apply to students from all grade levels who have pass/fail grades in NCAA-approved core courses in spring and summer 2020 due to the COVID-19 response.”

What about SAT Subject Tests scheduled for May 2 and June 6?

SAT Subject Tests previously scheduled for May 2 and June 6 have been cancelled.

How will graduation requirements for the class of 2020 be impacted?

The Ohio Department of Education has clarified the graduation requirements for the Class of 2020. Governor DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly have given flexibility to schools and districts to award diplomas to students who have successfully completed the curriculum requirements while forgoing all other additional requirements.

How has AP testing been impacted?

On 4/3/20, the College Board shared tons of information about the upcoming online testing format:

The College Board said: “We’re confident that the vast majority of higher ed institutions will award college credit as they have in the past. We’ve spoken with hundreds of institutions across the country that support our solution for this year’s AP Exams.” At this point, we don’t know how the colleges will treat AP for credit this year.

How has Ohio’s College Credit Plus program been impacted?

On 3/27/20, the Ohio Department of Education announced guidance for colleges and schools about College Credit Plus for the upcoming 2020/21 school year. The Letter of Intent due date which is normally April 1st has been extended to May 1st. The funding application for nonpublic and homeschooled students has also been extended to May 1st.

The guidance document also contains details about what happens if a student couldn’t take the ACT or SAT test for qualification into the program for this summer because of test cancellations. (A student needs a 3.0 GPA. Colleges can still use their institutional standards for admission decisions and placement into courses.)

Currently enrolled CCP students (spring 2020) can choose a Pass/Fail grade on a course if the college they are attending offers that option. (Choosing a P/F option has implications on weighted grading, class rank, NCAA & OHSAA eligibility, and certain graduation seals.)

If you missed Beth Probst’s free informational webinar about College Credit Plus on 3/23, you can watch it by clicking here.

What changes has the Ohio legislature instituted for this year?

On 3/25/20, the Ohio legislature passed a sweeping education bill to address needed changes this year. Annual testing is cancelled. Students on track to graduate as of 3/17 will graduate (see additional details regarding graduation above). Schools are allowed to substitute online learning for in-class time. It allows IEPs to be serviced online, and it allows for waivers to College Credit Plus requirements (see comment re: CCP above). (We don’t know how graduation requirements needing a specific end-of-year exam like Algebra will be adjusted if that exam wasn’t given.)

What about IB testing?

On 3/23/20, the International Baccalaureate cancelled the IB exams originally schedule for May 2020. “Depending on what they registered for, the student will be awarded a Diploma or a Course Certificate which reflects their standard of work. This is based on student’s coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes.” More detail can be found here.

Have you seen any great messages from college counselors with support for current juniors?

Yes! Without a doubt, all the admission folks are understanding and amazing. On 3/19/20, this letter attributed to the University of Chicago’s Dean of Admission and Financial aid demonstrated the messaging to all current juniors–a great read for your current junior if they are worried.

Will summer camps be affected this year?

Delaware Area Career Center, Tolles Career & Technical Education, and Great Oaks Career Campuses have all cancelled their summer camp programming. We’ll keep an eye on future closings as best we can. We’ll update our Summer Opportunities page as needed; however, due to the sheer number of camps listed, we ask that you check with the camp directly if in doubt.

Will colleges change their grading this semester?

On 3/19/20, we read this piece. Some colleges are switching to pass/fail grading instead of letter grades this semester to ease the tension some students may be feeling about online coursework. It is not clear what will happen to things dependent on GPA like scholarships, transfers, and grad school applications. Some colleges are giving students the choice between standard grades (A, B, C, etc.) and pass/fail grading. We are awaiting for guidance from the school districts themselves as to what is best for our students.

Will colleges change their application requirements for fall 2020 after the ACT/SAT tests were cancelled?

On 3/18/20, Case Western announced they would allow fall applicants to apply without providing ACT/SAT test scores. This test optional policy is for Fall 2020. is maintaining a list of colleges who do not require test scores to be submitted this fall. Be aware that the majority of merit based scholarships require a test score in addition to a GPA.

Will college graduations take place on schedule?

On 3/17/20, Ohio State announced they will be postponing their commencement ceremony that was to be May 3. Most universities are also postponing their commencements or changing their format from the usual ceremony.

I have a senior making their final college decision. What do I do if they can’t visit campus? Do you think the May 1st deadline will change?

First, we are putting together a blog for current seniors with action items and ideas to help you. We’ll link it here. In the meantime, pay attention to the communications from colleges you’ve been accepted to–many are planning online outreach of some sort for those “admitted student events.” You’ll be able to get lots of your specific questions answered. Try fleshing out a list of last minute questions so you are prepared and know what last minute info you need. This article from Forbes (3/17/2020) has excellent information.

Second, regarding that May 1st deadline, some colleges (led by Oregon State) have postponed their freshman decision deadline to June 1st. Watch your email closely for communication from the colleges awaiting your reply. Ideally/hopefully, most will follow Oregon State’s lead. Some of the best minds in college admissions, like those at Oregon State, are lobbying on behalf of our children.

I have a junior or sophomore, and we were planning on visiting colleges over spring break. What do we do now?

Many (though not all) colleges have postponed official college visits/tours. The Forbes article referenced above will include ideas for how to visit a college virtually.

If you’d like to be receiving information about online events, be sure the college has your child’s email address. Visit the college’s website and look for a place to get on their mailing list or request more information.

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How Coronavirus is impacting At The Core…

As concerns about the spread of Coronavirus increase, At The Core wants to let you know our team is prepared and can provide uninterrupted support during this time.

At The Core is carrying on normal business operations, and the team has the resources and tools they need to do their work from any location.

Our services including Guided Self Assessment, Private Consultations, and even educational programming can be done (and has been for years) through online platforms. In these times of social distancing, we are weighing each and every interaction carefully.

But no matter how the interaction takes place, the needs for our teens and their families have not changed. Please know we’re here to help.

We’re equipped to operate fully online, and we are standing shoulder to shoulder with other parents in these unusual times.

We will continue to keep families updated should program dates or their format change.

Remember, you can reach out to us at any time with your questions.

Thank you everyone. Please stay safe. We are thinking about all of you during these times.


CDC Website and Ohio Department of Health


Originally published March 13, 2020