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The largest applicant pool in history, but why?

January 5th, 2021

Many colleges and universities are reporting their largest early applicant pools in history. The increase comes in part from new financial aid programs supporting students through the pandemic, as well as the decision by many institutions to make standardized tests optional. More students are applying, understanding that their applications will be reviewed in a more qualitative way than ever before. Virtual recruitment has also been a significant factor in expanding applicant pools.

To illustrate the dramatic rise in early applications to selected universities, a colleague created this graph. If you gulp when seeing it, you’re in good company!

Image via Score at the Top

Despite this year’s heightened competition in a certain subset of colleges, many excellent choices remain beyond this group. Although media reports may lead you to believe otherwise, the vast majority of colleges are making decisions in line with recent history. Now, more than ever, we remain focused on best fit and continue to give serious weight to a wide range of options.

In the article linked below, Josh Stephens has published his thoughts about what’s happening and why. We think his article provides great insight as this year’s applicant numbers have taken us all by surprise. While we do believe his message is important, we don’t want it to completely rule your thought process while continuing this admissions journey. Many students are seeing their hard work pay off and are receiving offers from their top choices. Unfortunately, we are also seeing some disappointment, which is completely normal. Sometimes it is okay to trust the process and know that your final destination will be where you were always meant to go. Being offered admission to your green or yellow light schools is still a win! Always remember that those schools made it to your list for very good reasons in the first place.

Article referenced below from Medium published on December 20, 2020, written by Josh Stephens

2020 Early College Application Numbers Defy Expectations

Early Decision and Early Action decisions just came in for the 2020 application season. The numbers are like, in the immortal words of Johnny Utah, woah.

The short version is: conventional wisdom, among college counselors and many other folks associated with college admissions, speculated that application would drop; instead, they’re up. In some cases, way up. That means admission rates are down. In some cases, way down.

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