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Admissions adjusts application process for high school students to accommodate COVID-19 issues

ISSUED: 20 January 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many traditions, including those of high school students preparing for college. Many graduating seniors have found it difficult to take college entrance exams, and, as a result, Shepherd University has made some changes to help them through what has become a different and sometimes difficult process. Consistent with the state of West Virginia, Shepherd currently does not require SAT or ACT scores for students to apply.

“Shepherd University cares deeply about our prospective students and their families,” said Dr. Kelly Hart, vice president for enrollment management. “By dropping the SAT/ACT admission application requirement, we are remaining consistent with our mission and core values, specifically accessibility.”

SAT or ACT scores are also usually required for merit scholarships and the Nursing Direct Admit program. Hart said Shepherd has adjusted its merit scholarships to accommodate students without college entrance exam scores, and the Nursing Direct Admit program is collecting more detailed information from applicants to assist in the selection process. 

Hart said COVID-19 has impacted prospective students in a variety of other ways, and Shepherd is doing what it can to accommodate them. Many high school students are struggling with remote and online learning, and both students and counselors are experiencing fatigue. Because of the pandemic, Shepherd’s admissions office has had to alter the way it does business.

High school in-person visits are no longer allowed, and Shepherd admissions counselors are not able to meet in person with prospective students at their high schools. In-person campus tours have been significantly altered to adhere to safety guidelines, with large group and on-campus tours or open house events being eliminated. Campus tours are now very small, with one prospective student and family per tour guide, and open houses are remote.  Hart said attendance at virtual visits has been low both at Shepherd and at the regional and national levels.

“We know that not all prospective students have access to Wi-Fi or may have to share with family members, so this may be negatively impacting online admission applications,” Hart said. “In addition, first-generation students may not be as familiar with the college admission application process and may not have access to opportunities to learn more ​and/or apply.”

Hart said Shepherd has responded in a number of ways. The Admissions and Financial Aid offices have reached out to high school counselors to let them know Shepherd is there to support them and their students. Both offices are offering virtual events to assist prospective students and families with the admission and/or financial aid process. Admissions has made a paper application available that was students who inquired about fall 2021 admission but had not yet applied.

During the fall semester, admission counselors typically visit high schools and meet with students. This year, visits were virtual. In many cases, attendance was lower than expected, so counselors followed up with students and high school counselors and rescheduled visits.

Recognizing that students and families may not be able to travel to campus during a weekday, Admissions is offering Saturday tours twice per month. Admissions worked collaboratively with Academic Affairs and department chairs to host virtual admissions events during the fall.

“At Shepherd, we care deeply about student success and realize this is an especially challenging time for everyone,” Hart said. “We are committed to supporting our prospective students, their families, and high school counselors and are only a call, text, or email away. Please contact us—we are happy to assist.”

For more information about attending Shepherd, visit https://www.shepherd.edu/admissions.

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