May 2020

High school students have faced a lot of changes and challenges this spring. When it comes to concerns about how colleges are going to react, from going to pass-fail grading to changes in testing for IB and AP courses, the message from Minnesota private colleges is to not worry.

Admission leaders at the 17 Minnesota private colleges all affirmed that they want high school students to know that having passing or credit marks on their transcripts because of changes this spring tied to COVID-19 will not be a barrier in terms of admission or matriculation.

For students who will have classes on their transcripts without regular grades noted, Mike Vandenberg, director of recruitment at Concordia College, offers up some advice. “Share additional information about yourself and situation with admissions counselors,” Vandenberg said. “We recognize this isn’t a normal term and the more information we can get about a student the better.”

“Flexibility and context are two things we take into consideration when looking at transcripts,” Vandenberg said. “There will probably be one term that will have pass-fail on them and we will put that term in context with what else is on the transcript. If the student has had solid academic coursework and grades leading up to the term of pass-fail, that says more than the pass-fail options. For us pass-fail won’t make or break an admissions decision.”

For many students AP and IB tests this spring were taken at home — without a proctor. This has led to some questions about how colleges will look at these tests scores. For the 2020 cycle, all admission leaders at the 17 Minnesota private colleges affirmed that they will continue awarding AP and IB credits as usual. 

“If we get the score officially reported, we won’t look at it any differently than previous years,” Vandenberg said. “We won’t be asking students whether they took the test at home or at school. If we get the score from the College Board or IB we will be treating that score as we normally would.”

The clarity about how Minnesota private colleges will approach AP and IB scores, as well as pass-fail classes, is just one indicator of the holistic approach that the institutions take to how they review applications and help students matriculate. Flexibility and compassion are definitely called for at a time like this, noted Ann Kjorstad, College and Career Center Counselor at Academy of Holy Angels.

“I have the utmost trust that college admission professionals have the ability to get context from transcripts, counselor and teacher letters and other materials submitted for review in the admission process,” Kjorstad said. “I have worked on both the high school and college side; I can’t imagine a college admission counselor looking at a transcript from Spring 2020 and not having grace and compassion for the situation. There will be a deep level of understanding for what students have gone through.”

For more information about admissions at an individual college, reach out to the college admissions offices directly

By Tom Lancaster