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December 5, 2020

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How will the college admissions process be impacted this fall?

UNLV Move-In Day Fall Semester 2020

Christopher DeVargas

A calendar showing various socially distanced activities is posted in the hallway of one of the dorms on campus at UNLV, Tuesday Aug. 18, 2020. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNLV has taken extra precautions in order to maintain social distance and safety for students while living on campus.

Prom, graduation, SAT testing—the global pandemic has disrupted all our usual rites of passage. And naturally, that has reverberated into the realm of college admissions. How do prospective students apply to their dream schools when they lack standardized test scores, completed semesters or extracurricular activities?

As with everything else in this topsy-turvy time, applicants and admissions offices simply have to make do.

First, some good news: For College of Southern Nevada (CSN), the application process is more or less business as usual. “We don’t have the true admission process that you might experience at the university,” says Patty Charlton, vice president and provost for CSN’s Henderson campus. As an “open-access institution,” no specific SAT or ACT scores are required. “We work with everyone where they are,” Charlton says.

In addition to traditional credit or degree programs, CSN offers career training for the community at large, ideal for those looking for new opportunities amid the pandemic. (Visit CSN's website for more information.)

CSN students can register for the fall semester through the first week of classes (August 30). Charlton recommends that all students fill out a FAFSA form to see if they can benefit from scholarships and financial aid. Due to COVID-19, students might be newly eligible for help.

UNLV says it’s also working on a COVID-friendly admissions process. “We are in the business of getting students to the other side, and we’re committed to finding a way to do that,” Steve McKellips, UNLV’s associate vice president for enrollment and student services at UNLV, said in a news statement.

UNLV extended the application deadline from May to July. This fall, incoming students will not be required to submit ACT/SAT scores for course placement. On-campus visits are suspended, and new student orientation and recruitment are taking place virtually.

Tips for college success

“[Don’t] be afraid to raise your hand and say, ‘I’m over here, and I have questions!’ We’re trying to be as widespread and flexible as we possibly can to deliver services to our students so that they don’t feel so isolated,” Steve McKellips, UNLV’s associate vice president for enrollment and student services, said in a news statement. “This transition might be a little difficult, but don’t forget that there are people standing there with their hands out, waiting to help you get to the other side.”

Patty Charlton, vice president and provost for CSN’s Henderson campus, recommends taking advantage of the school’s resources, such as online tutoring, libraries, training programs and more: “We have an amazing center of academic success. … They are here 24 hours a day for any students that might have a challenge.”

UNLV communication studies professor Jake Thompson offers this advice: “Be disciplined in your approach to online classes.” He recommends breaking up classes into manageable blocks and working on them in segments. “That will also help [you] retain the information better.”

Above all, “Do what works best for you,” Thompson says. “The university is really working hard to be flexible for students and to create lots of options for them. … If you really do learn best in person, try to schedule classes that are in person.”

For more information, visit UNLV's website or CSN's.

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.