For those of you seeking information to guide your college search and application process in the age of COVID-19, we have updated the “Ask” portion of our website with COVID-related answers to many of your most frequently asked questions, and will continue to add information there as it becomes available.
Most importantly, we wish to remind you that our admissions process has always relied on what we call “whole person review:” the practice of considering each student’s individual context and environment as we learn through their applications about their lived experiences, their achievements, and the academic and personal contributions they have made in their respective school communities. This philosophy will continue in the age of COVID-19, which means:
- We understand that schools and districts are making the best decisions they can at this moment in the interest of their students’ health and educational experience. We respect and support the decisions schools are making, and recognize these decisions will likely alter the way course selection, grading, exams, classroom learning, extracurricular activities and many other aspects of secondary school administration and pedagogy play out over the coming weeks and months. We are committed to continuing to work with all of our students and their counselors to understand the ways in which their lives have had to shift in light of COVID-19, and to support students in their efforts to represent those shifts effectively in their Penn applications.
- We expect students to make the most of the educational opportunities available to them, but will continue to consider the many elements affecting and shaping their high school experiences as a result of COVID-19. The fact that the educational setting is remote will not have any bearing on their application review or outcome.
- We routinely review the role of standardized testing in our admissions process. Testing agencies including the College Board and the ACT have cancelled multiple test dates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We believe these are responsible decisions, and we recognize the impact fewer test dates will have on students’ plans. In prior years, Penn recommended SAT subject tests in addition to the SAT or ACT exam because these exams, despite their limitations, provide additional insight into academic preparation. With fewer testing dates available, we want to provide some degree of flexibility for students as they plan to apply to Penn. For the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, SAT subject tests will be optional (i.e. neither required nor recommended) for applicants. We will continue to require students to submit SAT or ACT scores. Penn was the first school in the Ivy League not to require the SAT subject tests for admission, and we join others now in making these Subject Tests optional for the upcoming admissions cycle. Please find more details on our testing policy, including self-reporting options, on our admissions website.
To those facing trouble and worry, our founder, Benjamin Franklin had this advice: “Keep in the sunlight.” All of us in Penn Admissions are grateful for his wisdom at this challenging time. We will continue to seek out your partnership, be responsive and proactive wherever possible, and we remain grateful for all of your efforts to support students and families during this unprecedented time.
Keep in the sunlight,
The Penn Admissions Team