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College Admissions Are Crazier Than Ever!

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College Applications witnessed a dramatic surge as anxious high schoolers filled forms hoping to make the best of the pandemic.

Early applications have increased considerably as major universities suspended SAT and ACT testing requirements. Ivy League colleges and other highly selective colleges dropped SAT and ACT requirements for the class of 2025, bringing in an unprecedented rush of applications and what could turn out to be the most chaotic selection experiment in the history of American higher education.

The rapid surge in demand for these prestigious colleges is yet another repercussion of the coronavirus pandemic, which might change college admissions for many years to come. The pandemic has provided significant — and in some cases decisive — momentum to a push to reduce the use of admissions testing at highly competitive colleges and universities. More low-income students from under-resourced high schools may be accepted with less emphasis on standardized test scores (which multiple studies have linked high performance to family wealth). Colleges claim that in the absence of SAT or ACT scores, they will focus on teacher recommendations and indicators of intellectual curiosity and examine candidates in the context of their backgrounds.

1 Million Students Applied Before Jan 1 Deadline

According to the Common Application, an online platform for hundreds of schools and universities, some 1 million students applied ahead of the January deadlines this year. Application totals declined somewhat at public institutions with fewer than 10,000 students and at small private colleges, where most candidates get admitted.

Early Applications Records Skyrocketed Surge

In statistics released by Wall Street Journal, early applications of the following institutes saw a record-breaking response in:

  • Brown University by 22%
  • The University of Pennsylvania by 23%
  • Dartmouth College by 29%
  • Columbia University by 49%
  • Yale University by 38%
  • Harvard University by whooping 57%

As the more competitive colleges were flooded with applicants, universities with no national name recognition and those that attract a higher proportion of low-income and first-generation college students saw drops. For example, freshman applications to California State University, Dominguez Hills, decreased by 13% this year. Applications to what the State University of New York refers to as its “university colleges,” primarily located in smaller locations with no Ph.D. programs, were down by 17%.

With the gates to Top US Universities no longer guarded by tests like the SAT or ACT, thousands of anxious, unsure students applied to more colleges hoping to get admitted to their dream colleges. Hope is not a strategy!


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