By Tim Parros
I have written many articles over the years referring to the changes to college admission. We continue to see changes in the admission process this year as we round the Covid corner. It is not surprising to us at Parros College Planning that most selective colleges continue to see a multiple-year trend of increasing application numbers, often with percentages in the double digits, that far outpace any growth in the number of applicants. Many students apply to these colleges “just to see” if they can get in, knowing the chances are very slim. According to a Business Insider article, Harvard’s projected revenue from their application fees of $75.00 nets the school $2,928,075. This is an excellent way for Harvard to make money for the college but disappointing for kids to find that they are not successful with their application.
Why are colleges getting such an increase in applications? One reason might be the introduction of test options at many universities. Because of this, students have sent out more applications, leading to greater competition in regular rounds. The Class of 2025 admissions cycle already marked an increase in selectivity and the number of applications submitted compared to previous years across the Ivy League and other top universities. Another growth is due to the uncertainty-fueled “I will apply everywhere” that students take toward building college lists. We try to work closely with our students making realistic college lists and considering college fit very closely. Although every year, we do have students who “just want to try” to get into a super-selective college.
Another trend that we are seeing this year is that some high school seniors are scratching their heads, wondering how they were denied admission at their local university, which two years ago would have been a “sure thing.” Parents might also be asking how Northeastern University has a lower early acceptance rate than Harvard University. We continue to see colleges using enrollment tactics that are not always student-centered. This might include early action deferrals to allow the college to get more applicants for regular decisions. It’s important not to forget that colleges and universities are businesses and operate this way to make money and remain solvent.
As we start our application process with the Class of 2027 (high school class of 2023), we know that things will continue to change and that it is our job to keep up with the changes, advising them along the way. One thing for sure is that this Class will begin their college search amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so many colleges have already extended their test-optional admission policy through the 2022-23 application cycle. College Board and ACT continue to advise “flexibility” in standardized testing requirements during the pandemic, so colleges are following suit. We continue to stress that it is essential to find the right fit for college; this sometimes means not looking just at a name.
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