The New Admissions Normal: Navigating the College Process in 2021

For many parents, mentors, and other adults seeking to guide high school seniors through the final steps of the college application process this spring — or those supporting younger students just beginning to embark on that journey — the ongoing pandemic has added elements of confusion and anxiety to a rite of passage that was already a source of bewilderment and angst long before any of us had heard of COVID-19.

girl and boy, seniors in high school
College admissions in 2021 are even more complicated than it was before. (Twenty20 @SBPhoto)

With the hope of demystifying this “New Admissions Normal” a bit — and, in the process, easing some of that anxiety and confusion — we hope you will join me and Dr. Angel B. Pérez, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) for a discussion around how families can navigate college admissions in 2021.

Grown and Flown Facebook Live March 16 7 PM ET

We will be live on the Grown & Flown Facebook page on March 16 at 7 pm in the East (4 pm in the West) for a special discussion and question-and-answer session.

For parents of high school seniors, we’ll have advice on supporting your child through the decision-making round of the process, including tips on taking the measure of an institution that you may not be able to visit in-person as well as ways to assess financial aid packages at a moment when many families’ finances (as well as the budgets of colleges themselves) have been squeezed by the pandemic.

For parents of high school juniors (and younger), we’ll share thoughts on the state of standardized testing, including on the many colleges and universities whose COVID-related, ACT-and-SAT-optional policies are being extended for another year, as well as address concerns about the impact of long-term, remote schooling on extracurricular and other activities. 

And yet for all the ways that college admissions have been impacted by the pandemic, we’ll discuss the many aspects of applying to college that have remained little changed in this turbulent last year, as well as offer guarded predictions of what the future might bring, in the short and long-term.

We’ll also talk about how colleges have been impacted by the national conversations around social justice, including the Black Lives Matter movement; gender identity and sexual orientation; and heightened awareness of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion — as well as how families might consider sizing up a university’s approach to these and other issues as they build their college lists.

We hope to see you on Grown & Flown on March 16, and we look forward to your questions.


Dr. Angel B. Pérez is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), a membership organization of nearly 14,000 admission and counseling professionals from around the world committed to postsecondary readiness, access and success. 

Jacques Steinberg is the New York Times Bestselling Author of The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College and the co-author, with Eric J. Furda, of The College Conversation: A Practical Companion for Parents to Guide Their Children Along the Path to Higher Education.

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About Jacques Steinberg

Jacques Steinberg is the New York Times bestselling author of The Gatekeepers and You Are an Ironman, and is a former New York Times education journalist. He has served as a senior executive at Say Yes to Education and is on the board of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. He appears periodically as a college admissions expert on Grown & Flown.

Read more posts by Jacques

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