A transcript filled with “pass” or “credit” grades won’t be counted against you, admissions officers say. What will be considered are the letter grades that are on your transcript, along with the classes you’ve taken, says Steve Robinson , senior associate vice president for enrollment management at the University of Utah.
“I think a lot of schools are looking at the academic rigor of what a student attempted,” says Robinson. “In a rural high school, maybe there aren’t as many (Advanced Placement) opportunities, or none, but what I can tell is that the student took everything possible that the high school offered academically –– they really tried, even if they (have pass grades).”
As grading has changed, so have testing requirements. Even before the pandemic, colleges began to make submitting standardized test scores, such as from the ACT and SAT, optional. The practice spread to more schools due to the difficulties the pandemic has posed.
Extracurriculars also don’t look the same as they did pre-pandemic. Hawkins says that in some cases, how students spent their free time during the pandemic is taking the place of the extracurricular section of an application, at least in the eyes of admissions officers.
Some applications, including the Common App — a standardized college application accepted at roughly 900 schools — can offer space to write about your experience during the pandemic, such as hardships you faced or a new skill you learned.