May 1, known as National Decision Day to those in the admissions sphere, has come and gone. This day marks the day that high school seniors should decide where they will attend college in the fall. Usually, this commitment goes hand-in-hand with a deposit, thereby holding their place for the fall.
While there is a lot of pressure to make the decision by May 1, it’s not necessary. Many colleges will still accept decisions after the May 1 deadline. In fact, colleges will advertise it.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) provides a full list of which colleges still have openings for students
. Not only do they feature each college, but they also indicate which colleges still have financial aid and housing available to students. Finally, primary contacts for each college are listed, giving counselors, students, and parents someone specific to reach out to about openings.
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The contrast from last year’s college openings suggest that students are feeling more confident about attending college in the Fall of 2021 versus the Fall of 2020. Last year, nearly 800 colleges still had openings after May 1
. This drastically lower figure indicates that high school seniors and those that took a gap year in response to the pandemic are ready to return to normal.
Colleges also put confidence into more students applying this past year. Many colleges went test optional
in response to SAT and ACT testing center closures as well as a lack of access to test prep resources and workshops. Because of this, it was easier to apply to college than it has been in years past.
Though a return to normal is on the horizon, students will still feel the affects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
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Mandatory COVID Vaccines
Many colleges will require students to receive the COVID vaccine
before arriving on campus in the Fall of 2021. If all – or a majority – of students return to campus vaccinated, colleges can begin to loosen some of the restrictions they have had in place for the 2020 – 21 academic year.
Naturally, some students are pushing back against mandatory vaccines. For those students that prefer not to, some colleges may provide an alternative, like weekly testing. Otherwise, many legal experts argue that colleges are within their rights to mandate vaccines, as it has been a practice on college campuses for decades for students to be vaccinated for certain diseases.
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Financial Aid Appeals
If paying for college is a hindrance to students committing to a college, they can discuss a financial aid appeal with colleges of interest to them. Colleges have always provided financial aid appeals to students that can provide extenuating circumstances that would affect their ability to pay, which may or may not have been reflected on the FAFSA
However, this year, colleges have anticipated an increase in these requests for more financial aid. That is in large part due to the fact that this year’s FAFSA
asked for financial information from 2019. It did not reflect job losses or exorbitant health care expenses that may have burdened families in 2020.
Colleges have more flexibility to cater to financial aid appeals than they have in previous years because of emergency financial aid relief
from the Trump and Biden administrations.
Some Virtual Course Offerings
Most colleges and universities around the country are planning for full-time, in-person learning. However, there may be some institutions that opt to continue virtual learning or operate on a hybrid schedule. At the same time, if we’ve learned anything through this, it’s that our best laid plans are merely temporary.
There may also be some cases in which a full-time, in-person institution may offer a certain course virtually. Students should be prepared to be flexible once more.