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What this year's high school seniors should know about applying for college

It will look different this year. Which is Minnesota nice, for all kinds of messed up.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — We may not know exactly what to expect for this upcoming school year, but one thing is certain, this year's seniors are already thinking about what comes next--college.

“It's a very different admissions year,” says Keri Bahar, Founder of KSB College Consulting.

Different. That's Minnesota nice for all kinds of messed up. But fear not high school seniors! Bahar has some good advice and knowledge for you.

For instance, what about your ACT and SAT scores?

“Prior to the pandemic there were always about three to four hundred schools in the United States that were test score optional by choice. The pandemic has forced a lot of these schools, a lot of additional schools, and we're talking like eight to 900 universities at this point, to become test score optional this year. And some have already come out and said they are going to stay test score optional for the next year, so the high school class of 2022,” says Bahar.

“If you've not had a chance to take a test, if you've not had a chance to retake a test, or if you're not happy with your test scores, you do not need to submit them for admission. And yes, there's still a chance that you would get in. That said, some students are very good testers, and having that test can absolutely enhance your application,” she says.

Okay, so if not test scores, what should we be focused on?

"As you take that out, everything that a student is submitting is going to be looked at all that more intensely. And so, they want to spend a tremendous amount of time on their essays, really perfecting them. Don't leave anything blank. So, even if a school has some optional questions, complete those optional essays this year, don't leave anything blank. Make sure that you are getting letters of recommendation from teachers and what's called a personal recommendation from somebody who hasn't taught you, who has worked with you potentially as a mentor, as a coach, as advisor,” she adds.

Her best advice? Take a deep breath. And remember--you're not the only one in this "different" situation.

“Students feel that other students, other states, may have an advantage and the reality is everybody is going through the same situation, and colleges are more than aware that every school has had to alter their learning style, and everything else so, it's a little bit of a level playing field in that way,” she says.

If you're considering a gap year, Keri suggests you go through the application process now anyway, since you don't need to decide until you get accepted. That will give you time to really weigh all your options.