COVID-19 has disrupted the lives and postsecondary education plans of many students around the world. In an attempt to reduce stress of students who have been impacted by this pandemic and give them a chance to share their covid experiences with universities, the Common App has introduced an optional writing section in their application. In this question, students will be expected to share how the COVID pandemic has had an impact on their personal and academic lives.

This is the exact question that will be asked, with a word limit of 250 words:

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.

Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N

Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

Is this question completely optional?

Yes it is, this question is supposed to provide students with a space where they can express the grievances and difficulties that the pandemic may have brought upon them, in turn negatively impacting their academic lives and their university applications.

Should I answer the COVID-19 Question?

Students should understand that college admission officers are also human beings who have lived through the pandemic and are aware of the hardships that the pandemic has brought upon every person. They realise that the batch of students graduating in 2021 are going to have to face greater-than-ordinary challenges in their academic and professional lives, and thus need the full support and understanding of universities.

Here are some of the challenges students may have faced during the pandemic:

1) A reduction in grades/academic performance due to the shifting of classes online.

2) Homes are generally seen as safe havens where students can perform well and be mentally stable. But, this is not true, as for many homes can be places of domestic disputes and instability, negatively affecting the academic performance of students. Moreover, some students belong from crowded homes where focusing and studying may be a very difficult task to achieve.

3) The pandemic has affected the mental health of many teenagers and students. It has brought anxiety and panic into the lives of many, and universities realise that this affects the students’ productivity and academic performance. If you think that the coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected your grades, you should definitely give this question a shot in order to elaborate on the obstacles you faced while preparing for higher studies. Although, if you have managed to score well and maintain your academic performance, you do not have to answer this question.

How should I approach the COVID question?

Factually state how the pandemic affected you and your family. Did someone in your family lose their job? Did you have to take up homemaking duties at home? Was your mental health negatively impacted by the pandemic? Did you not have an environment at home which was conducive to studying? Mention these factors clearly and succinctly, so that the admission officers understand where you’re coming from. Make sure that you mention how these factors affected you personally, and how they might have affected your academic performance.

We, at Rostrum Education, acknowledge that some students have had to go through very difficult times due to the ongoing pandemic, which has subsequently affected their productivity and academic performance. We would recommend students not feel too anxious and stressed out about underperforming or not accomplishing your academic goals. The entire world is having to deal with this pandemic in a myriad of ways, and everyone, from the admission officers to your teachers, understand that in these times of stress and uncertainty, students deserve the utmost leniency and

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