While our seniors are still awaiting admissions decisions from a few colleges, the cycle for the 2021-2022 college admissions season is largely coming to a close. In many ways, the challenges and outcomes from this cycle were similar to those of last year, and strongly influenced by Covid-19. However, reduced Covid infection numbers in the fall of 2021 and post-Omicron have allowed this years seniors the opportunity to visit some college campuses in person – an advantage that most in the class of 2021 were not provided. In reflecting on what I’ve observed in this year’s admissions cycle, I thought it might be useful to share some of my takeaways:
SATs and ACTs remain optional at nearly all colleges, and I have yet to see any clear examples of a student being penalized in their application review as a result of not submitting scores. When colleges say that standardized testing is optional, they seem to be telling the truth!
Applications still require a lot of essays. Love them or hate them, I’ve seen no indications of colleges reducing the number of supplemental essays they require as part of the application process. I haven’t tracked official numbers, but I’d say the average senior I worked with had around 10 supplemental essays to write in total (and those applying to the most selective colleges had many many more!).
Deferments* seemed more common than any prior cycle I’ve worked with students. My suspicion is that ambiguities around applicant numbers as a result of Covid caused colleges to be a bit more cautious than normal in offering acceptances to early applicants. Instead, they’ve chosen to defer applicants on the bubble to see what their regular decision applicant pool looks like before making final calls. This is not surprising, but it was certainly frustrating for seniors. As one told me upon receiving a deferment letter, “it’s not necessarily bad news, but it definitely doesn’t feel like good news.”
Strong applicants are being rewarded with strong merit aid offers. In addition to more deferments, I saw much greater amounts of merit aid awarded to applicants (well over $1 million aid awarded to Foundry seniors in total). Frequently, these merit awards were given to super strong applicants who applied to colleges that recognized talent and knew that they would need to push merit aid if they wanted to compete with other colleges for the student.
Some majors do seem to make acceptances more difficult. I’ve seen this a bit over the last few years, but there seems to be a clear correlation between lower acceptance rates when students choose engineering and computer science majors as their major of choice when applying. No, I don’t recommend trying to fool the system and choosing a major you have no interest in as a way to get in the door (the reasons why require a longer explanation), but the major you list on your application can be a significant factor in your admissions decision.
It’s been a chaotic and stressful last few years. High school is really hard in normal times, and Covid has made it significantly more challenging. I’m amazed on a daily basis with all our high schoolers are able to achieve despite the massive hurdles placed in their way. However, there’s no question that the mental and emotional health of our high schoolers is suffering. Please remember that you are doing your best under the circumstances and build time for yourself to de-stress. No college on Earth is worth sacrificing your health.
And for those wondering, here is the latest list of colleges where our students were accepted this year:
And just a reminder that our online course is available for enrollment. It will significantly reduce the stress associated with the college admissions process! Learn more here: https://foundryadmissions.thinkific.com/courses/navigatingcollegeadmissions