For many students, the college application season is a nerve-racking time, with countless hours spent writing personal statements, getting letters of recommendations, sending over transcripts, and studying. Now, add the hurdle of a global pandemic into the mix, and perseverance has become the key to success.

Kai Herrick has been hoping to transfer to Ohio State University as a music education major since high school. He has spent the last 3 years practicing his trumpet, performing in ensembles, and teaching students. He has described the transfer and audition process as not ideal.

“I would want my auditions to be in person because that’s a good opportunity to see student life on campus,” Herrick said. “The way that most schools handled it was having [students] send in a video audition. Very few schools had an option for a live Zoom audition. I wish more schools had that option because I prefer doing it live.”

When the trumpet player got accepted into Ohio State in January, he had 3 weeks to accept or decline his admission offer. In order to keep Ohio State as an option, he was forced to drop a deposit.

“I paid 100 dollars to commit to them just so I can wait and see about financial aid. At that point they were saying ‘oh you’re not gonna find out about financial aid until March,’” Herrick said.

Herrick was also concerned about not being able to visit college campuses, since it plays a big part in the college experience. He hopes he can keep up with fellow musicians in ensembles when he transfers.

“A lot of being a musician is growing not only as an individual, but in an ensemble setting,” Herrick said. “With the pandemic and things being virtual, we’re trying to manage it, but it’s not the same. Coming out of this I’m kind of scared about playing in ensembles again because it’s been so long since I’ve played with people.”

Other students like Jian Placencia felt that the transfer process was pretty straight forward. Having applied to colleges in high school, Placencia knew what to expect going into the process.

“I think it was more tedious than complicated,” said Placencia. “I think the most tedious part was having to go back to your transcripts and manually put everything in.”

Placencia has been interested in film his whole life and plans to study it at California State University, Northridge. He primarily wants to work in sound.

Psychology major and aspiring educator Jonathan Oyaga said the college application process started rough, but got easier as he became familiar with college resources.

“With everything being online right now, it was a little difficult because I didn’t know how to get immediate support,” Oyaga said. “But that’s when it got a little easier as well since everything was online I didn’t have to go to a specific office to find out information. I could just go to the website.”

Oyaga has been heavily involved with education, working as a communications editor for the Student California Teachers Association, serving as a delegate for the National Education Association Representative Assembly, and interning for school districts. He is also a first generation college student.

Despite the challenges that came with applying to college, these students feel that the worst of COVID is behind them, and that things will start to get better for students once schools resume in-person learning. With the University of California and California State University systems announcing plans to go back in person this fall, and a quarter of the US population fully vaccinated, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

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