#061 COVID Impact on College Admissions

Show Notes


As we hit the third anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve invited two guests, Amy Seeley and Cristiana Quinn, to discuss the effects it has had on college admissions. This includes both how students apply to college and how colleges determine who to admit. The last three years have felt like the wild west to those who work with college-bound families, so we know it feels even more so to you. Our conversation details the changes we’ve made to the advice we share with parents navigating the sometimes-bumpy road of helping their students get into college.


With the rise of test-optional policies, the college admissions process has become more unpredictable for colleges, who are trying to determine which students will be successful on their campus. The average number of applications that students submit has greatly increased since 2020 and therefore colleges are inundated with applications making their job even more challenging.

On the college side, dealing with more applicants has made demonstrated interest and yield protection play a bigger role. Each college has a different idea of what they want their freshman class to look like: in-state and out-of-state students, international students, diversity, athletes, and legacy students to fill their roster. These priorities may change yearly based on leadership changes and more.

Families and colleges alike are taking more strategic approaches with early action, early decision 1 and 2, and regular decision. Early decision has become more selective since COVID, with acceptance rates dropping and more colleges filling a higher percentage of their seats during early decision. There have been new challenges in securing on-campus housing. It’s important to pay close attention to the changing rules around housing and enrollment deposit deadlines. 

In addition to housing, your family ought to carefully check the admissions and financial aid pages of each school’s website for important information about merit aid and other deadlines. Listen in and your family will have expert advice on reducing stress during the application process, minimizing the college list, and engaging with standardized testing despite the prevalence of test-optional policies.


  • How institutional priorities dictate admissions
  • The increased role demonstrated interest and yield protection are playing in admissions.
  • The role ACT-SAT test optional plays in admissions and testing changes since COVID
  • How Early Decision 1 and 2 are advantageous for some students, but not all
  • The number of colleges students are applying to and a suggested target

Meet Our Guest

Cristiana Quinn has been an independent college admission advisor for more than 15 years. To date, she has worked with more than 500 students and visited over 150 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Cristiana is a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the New England Association for College Admission Counseling. She graduated from the Wheeler School in Providence RI, holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Vermont where she is a member of the UVM Foundation Leadership Council. She also holds a Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts and completed the coursework for a Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA.

Amy Seeley began her career in test preparation in 1994 working for Princeton Review. In 2006, Amy began Seeley Test Preparation Services – meeting the test preparation needs of several hundred students annually in the Greater Cleveland area. As demand grew for Amy’s assistance in improving test scores, Seeley Test Pros was born in 2012 with the addition of tutors trained in the successful methods and strategies of Amy’s experience. 

Amy is the founder and co-host of Tests and the Rest: College Admissions Industry podcast, which discusses the latest issues in testing, admissions, learning, and education with leading experts.

Amy is a founding Board Member of the National Test Prep Association. She has presented at national test preparation conferences and is a founder and contributor to the Test Prep Tribe, a national collaboration of test prep professionals.

Listen on…the Flourish Site, Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon Music, Stitcher, or your favorite platform. 

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Links mentioned in this episode

Launch College & Career Clarity Course

College Admission Advisors, LLC

Seeley Test Pros

Tests and the Rest

Podcast Episodes Mentioned:

#037 ACT-SAT Test Optional Admission Data

#042 Will Grade Inflation Hurt Your Teen?

#052 Demonstrated Interest: How It Can Help Guide Your College Search


[00:53] Intro

[02:15] Introducing The Episode Guests

[02:55] Changes To The College Application Process Post-Covid

[04:37] Admissions Changes And Their Causes

[05:08] Definition of Yield

[07:18] What Drives Yield Protection Efforts

[08:21] The Effects of Grade Inflation & Test-Optional Admissions

[12:47] How Many Schools a Student SHOULD Apply To

[13:49] College Application Best Practices

[16:23] Early Decision, Regular Decision & How They Affect Scholarships

[23:25] How Admission Fluctuations Affect Housing

[25:10] Demonstrated Interest Can Help

[26:19] Minimizing Stress Can Help

[27:55] Final Thoughts

Access the episode transcript here.