Covid-19 Related College Updates

While many students have been planning and preparing for college applications the fall semester of their senior year, the current Distant Learning platform being used at Prospect because of the Covid-19 pandemic has altered traditional expectations and benchmarks. Please continue to be proactive in understanding your post-Prospect planning by reading our newsletter, joining our Class of 2021 Google Classroom (Class of 2022 coming soon!), connecting with your school counselor, and asking Ms. Bencomo questions important to you. Following are more resources and information:

About SAT/ACT testing... As it stands now, you do not have the option to test and most schools have gone test-optional for the 2020 fall application cycle. However, there may be an option to test online this fall if sites do not open again in the fall (we don’t know yet). My recommendation to students has been to only worry about what you can control. If you are feeling stressed about testing and studying for it, then it is not adding value to your application. Use this time to explore colleges and focus your energy on how you will write about yourself in the essay prompts or Personal Insight Questions. Continue to use this time to explore careers. By understanding a particular career better, you will determine the best educational pathway. Use the resources available on Naviance entitled “Career Interest Profiler” under the Careers tab.


A note about Pass/No Pass grading: Many of you have expressed disappointment at not receiving a letter grade last semester. We know you worked hard at adapting to the new format of learning. Those classes prepared you for this year's classes. As far as your college applications go, you will be able to make use of the "Additional Comments" section of your applications and possibly write about this in an essay or Personal Insight Question. Colleges across the states and internationally will be curious about your Covid-19 experience. How have you contributed positively to your community, how have you managed adversity, are there commitments you've have to be creative about maintaining, what initiatives have you taken during this time? This is going to be different for everyone.
Thank you to our friends at got college? for compiling the bulk of the following information. With updates in the college admission landscape happening daily, look also to this webpage for additional news. 



  1. Expect an increasing number of university campuses to go test optional or test free, at least for the upcoming admission cycle. Before Covid-19. See tools below for keeping track of individual campus policies for test requirements.
  2. Prospect historically has had students stay close to home, we expect an increase in this trend. Community colleges have been reaching out to us to schedule online registration and orientation workshops. Please check your emails for this information. Some private colleges has extended their application deadlines if you are hoping to attend a 4-year college closer to home.
  3. Because family finances may have been impacted, expect more demand on public universities which typically (but not always, when financial aid is factored in) have lower costs.
  4. College endowments have also taken a hit. Some private colleges, those more heavily reliant on tuition revenues, will close or merge. This has been a trend over the last few years, and we expect it to accelerate. Locally, San Francisco Art Institute and Notre Dame de Namur University are already among these. Public universities will have support of state governments, which is a luxury private universities don’t have. A good tool to help you evaluate 933 private campuses for financial strength is through an annual report that Forbes produces called the College Financial Health Grades.


These two crowdsource tools opened up on March 16 and March 20, 2020 from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, to help students and families keep informed.
  1. Secondary Schools Tool - provides basic information on how high schools and high school counselors are responding: plans for issuing final course grades and transcripts, and more. Please be patient with your high schools on this.
  2. College Admission Status Update Tool - designed as a central resource for information about changes in college admission events, deposit dates, and more. Within 24 hours of opening, more than 200 colleges and universities had provided their information. This tool will become even more useful as additional colleges and universities add their information.


  • FAFSA remains open until June 30, 2020. Any student or family who has not yet completed a FAFSA may still do so.
  • The California Dream Act is also available for completion, although the deadline has passed for CalGrant eligibility.
  • For those who have completed a FAFSA/Dream Act, and whose financial circumstances have changed considerably,  please reach out to your institution’s financial aid office. Financial aid administrators are afforded a degree of professional judgment under the law for state and federal aid, as well as for institutional aid, and can work with students and families whose incomes have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For other questions related to the COVID-19 outbreak and federal financial aid, visit


Students and families who believe that their situation requires a re-evaluation of their financial aid should be advised to:
  1. Utilize the campus financial aid calculators to determine if the change in their finances would affect the amount of financial aid they are eligible to receive.
  2. If the calculator shows a change in financial aid eligibility they should contact the campus(es) that they have been admitted to for available appeal processes.
  3. Contact information, including the best way to reach the financial aid office during remote operations, is available through the student's portal or on the financial aid website. Follow-up to students will be handled by email responses, or telephone calls or virtual meetings as needed.
Know that evaluations of financial aid are likely to occur later this summer, are considered on a case by case basis, and that process requirements can vary from campus to campus.



  1. Next Step Video and slides
  2. Each school has a different deadline for Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) this year. It is usually May 1st. If you are unsure, prepare to make a decision by May 1.
  3. Colleges are still operating remotely. If you have questions, ask. Remember, this is a relationship you will have for at least 4 years while you attend there. Start with excellent communication! 
  4. Please decline all other offers ASAP. In this time of uncertainty, it’s even more important to decline all other offers. This will help to open up wait list offers to your friends even sooner and will also help colleges understand what they need to do to meet capacity.
  5. Some campuses have either decreased the deposit amount required, postponed the deposit deadline, or have done both. Check with individual campuses for details.


  1. In recent years, an increasing number of universities have been moving to “test free” or “test optional” admission policies. Before Covid-19, 1080+ campuses had already done so. Use this link at for a searchable list of campuses that have these permanent policies in place. (Why go test optional or test fee? In a nutshell, because these campuses have found test results to no longer be predictive for college success.) Since the COVID-19 crisis, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Scripps College (CA) have adopted permanent test-optional admission policies.
  2. Some universities are waiving testing requirements for 2021 grads (and some campuses for 2022 grads as well). However, tests might still be required for merit aid or scholarships. We hope a link for this will be available soon at


Use this time to research colleges, take virtual tours (video, slides), set up application accounts, and start musing on your essay prompts and UC personal insight questions.

While we are Sheltered in Place, the thought of extracurriculars may seem absurd. Many of you have added family responsibilities - that counts! If you are helping care for young family members or working extra hours to help with rent, you are distinguishing yourself among college applicants. Colleges want students who understand and value mature responsibilities. If you find that you have time for more extracurriculars, here’s a list with more ideas which will continue to be update with ideas - so keep checking and feel free to submit your own!


Prospect recently hosted an Out-of-State Virtual College Fair with our friends from RACC.
Panthers, you have a team of teachers and staff members who look forward to the school doors opening again. Please check in with us if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to say hello. We miss you! Go Prospect!