New admissions season in the midst of a pandemic


Aastha Banga

Despite changes in the application process due to covid-19, sophomores from around the state are applying to MSMS with the hopes of a more academically challenging learning environment.

Fiona Dawe and Hailee Sexton

The pandemic is forcing MSMS to work harder to attract new students.

With the pool of applicants slightly smaller, MSMS Admissions has extended the deadlines for applying.

The priority deadline for applications was initially Feb. 1, but because of covid-19 adjustments, sophomores are now ultimately able to apply until March 15. Admissions Review teams looked at the first round of applications in late February, and invitations for interviews were sent out. There will be a second review of applications in late March. 

“Having a priority deadline, rather than a firm deadline, then extending it, then adding a second review is indicative of our response to covid-19,” said Alysia Lajune, MSMS’s new coordinator for admissions. “We felt we needed to allow more time for teachers and school counselors to submit recommendations and transcripts.”

Lajune said that although deadlines had to be extended, there are encouraging signs about next year’s class.

I’ve been unable to make a comparative analysis between this cycle and those before it,” Lajune said. “But, what I do know is that, although the application pool is slightly lower than last year’s, the ACT scores and grades we’re seeing are still on par with what we expect. We will still offer virtual events and webinars, but I may collaborate with current MSMS students and our coordinator of public relations about how we might utilize the latest social media trends to reach more 10th-graders.”

Lajune attributed the lower number of applications to health concerns amid the pandemic.

“I do think the pandemic may have discouraged some 10th graders from applying, or made some parents reluctant to send their child to a residential high school,” said Lajune. “Fortunately, MSMS has responded superbly to the pandemic and has a detailed plan that’s visible on our website. The few parents who have expressed their concerns to me were relieved to learn what MSMS has done, and each of their children applied. But I’m sure there are many others who are just more at ease having their child under their own roof during a public health pandemic, irrespective of our efforts to keep MSMS students safe. It’s one of those difficult decisions parents have to make, and I think we should respect it.”

Several current juniors and seniors urged sophomores to apply so that they can have the MSMS experience, even with covid-19 precautions that have limited social contact and in-person teaching.

“I would encourage everyone to apply,” said senior Aabha Mantri. “Because you get the chance to explore your interests through the many engaging classes offered, you get to learn from teachers who are passionate about what they teach, and you make everlasting friendships.”

If nothing else, come here for the people,” said junior Amy Zhang. “Being surrounded by like-minded individuals and bonding with them through living in the dorms together allows you to make so many close friends. Hanging out in other people’s rooms until 11:59 pm, eating all your meals together, and finding places on campus to hang out and study is a unique experience for high schoolers and a taste of college life, and it’s so much easier to transition when there’s such a strong sense of community.”

Senior Karlene Deng said she had several motivations to study at MSMS: “One reason I applied is because of my sister, who also went to MSMS,” Deng said. “And my family thought it would be a way for me to become more mature and adult-like, hopefully preparing me for college and beyond. For me, though, I believed I wasn’t challenged enough at my home school, and I wasn’t going to get the best resources and education I could possibly get if I stayed. MSMS also has numerous opportunities for me to explore my potential career choices.”

The coronavirus hasn’t discouraged Nicholas Popescu, a sophomore applicant from Starkville, MS.

“I heard about MSMS through my close friend’s brother who had applied and gotten in,” said Popescu. “I applied to MSMS to receive a greater education, namely in mathematics, than I could have gotten at my current high school.”

Popescu went to a summer camp on the MSMS campus, which he said encouraged him to apply for his junior and senior years of high school. If accepted to MSMS, he hopes to be able to meet like-minded peers and grow from the challenges of MSMS.

“MSMS will surely have an impact on me, considering it is a completely different experience than my current high school,” Popescu said. “For instance, I will actually live on the campus. MSMS would also impact my future by preparing me for college and higher education.”