2021 College Admissions Trends

Now that Ivy League schools no longer require SAT and ACT score submissions for the Class of 2025, we have seen an unprecedented wave of applications for America’s best colleges. Is that good news for the applicants? Many universities indicated that without standardized test scores, other holistic factors like recommendation letters, demonstrated interest, and an applicants’ environment will be given increased consideration. With the rapid increase in the number of applicants, it’s now more crucial than ever for students to set themselves apart from the norm in their applications. Under the current admissions standard with more subject factors, universities believe that the final status of the freshman class will not be announced until the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. Is such an admissions process a success or a failure? Will colleges ever return to the standardized testing requirement after a few years? Is it a blessing or a curse to relax our vigilance against academic requirements? How should individual differences be reflected afterwards? In the end, who will be the guinea pig of this change? We can only wait and see.

How can I be competitive in college applications?

According to Common App data, the number of applications for the four-year public and private universities in the United States has increased to a record 17% this year. Without compulsory SAT/ACT submission requirements, each applicant also submitted an application to more schools. Take Harvard as an example. Harvard received nearly 57,000 freshman applications this year, an increase of 42% compared to last year.

How crazy is the U.S. university application this year?

Greg Roberts, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Virginia, also said that their admissions team has been reviewing application materials with high intensity every day for 6 consecutive months. Personally, even he himself is not sure whether the decision made under such pressure is thorough. In addition, we can take Williams College as an example. Their admissions team needs to review and analyze nearly 45-50 applications every day, which is equivalent to saying that the review and decision-making time of an application is about 10 minutes. So how do we reflect our own uniqueness, thirst for knowledge, and passion for a certain subject field in 10 minutes? Is it organizing a club? Are you participating in a certain series of volunteer activities? The answer is yes and no. Because under such high competitive pressure, these conventional experiences are no longer enough to support individual differentiation. Students need to find a series of projects for themselves in advance, and these project experiences need to show your enthusiasm through continuity, take place in a certain field to show your depth of interest, and demonstrate your potential to complete similar projects at the university in the future.

Preparation for SAT/ACT is actually more important than ever!

This year, only 43% of applications from the University of Virginia chose not to submit standardized test scores. The majority of applicants still hope to show their academic strength through their scores. If you choose not to submit a score, 57% of your competitors have one more reference advantage than you. Admissions officers of some colleges and universities also indicated that in two similar applications, it is true that the one with standardized scores will be more competitive.

In the 2019 academic year, among all the students from Georgia Institute of Technology who submitted an SAT score, three-quarters of them got a score of 700 or higher in the math test (full score is 800). Lee Coffin, Deputy Director of Admissions and Deputy Director of Financial Aid at Dartmouth College, also said that standardized test scores used to be equal to GPA, hoping to ensure that the selected students can better pass the college exams and adapt to the pressure of the university. He didn't want to accept a student and then see them struggling in college because they couldn’t keep their grades up. Therefore, we have to wait and see what kind of butterfly effect will be produced by the elimination of standardized examinations for university admissions. One thing is quite certain, it is recommended that students who have been preparing for university applications in the past two years should still continue to take the tests and demonstrate your academic excellence.

For high schoolers, self-regulated learning is the most important skill

Nowadays, all factors are considered in your application. The biggest challenge is that a lot of factors that could make you stand out are completely optional and rely on self-motivation. If you easily give up every optional activity, your application will naturally be dull. Self-regulated learning refers to the process that learners actively use to regulate cognition, motivation and behavior in order to ensure constant improvement. It emphasizes the need for scholars to actively motivate themselves to invoke appropriate learning strategies.

Feel free to check out our upcoming open class to learn more about this year’s college application trends and what that means for your application.

2021 College Admissions Trends
7EDU Impact Academy 7 July, 2021
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Harvard Reinstates Standardized Test Score Requirement