Opinion: Admissions chances have not gone down this year!
This might seem counter-intuitive. We all have seen record low admissions rates this application season however, contrary to the popular belief held here on CollegeVine, admissions rates have not gone down as much as you think.
This year, many schools have gone test-optional meaning that there is 1 less metric to evaluate applicants. The testing metric is also a very important metric making up around 20% of the consideration at most schools. As a result of this, students who have low testing may think that they have a shot at getting in if they apply test optional and so they apply. The most important thing to consider is that, if these students were stellar applicants, they would have a perfect GPA, national awards and so they would have all the time in the world to study for the SAT/ACT and ace it hence they would apply with testing however, they didn't apply with a test indicating they were close to being considered for admission and as a result applied test optional as a last ditch attempt to push them over the line. We also should note that, on average, a 4.0 student is more likely to get a 1450+ SAT than a 3.3 student. While there are exceptions, on average GPA and extracurriculars are a relatively good measure of how you will perform on a test.
If you can agree with that last statement, then continue reading. Obviously, the admissions rate isn't so low because the class of 2025 just happens to be better than every other class. Therefore we can say that the the average intellect in the class of 2025 is relatively the same compared to every class.
But here's the thing - while the sheer quantity of applicants has increased dramatically this year, the applicants have not increased in quality. Stellar applicants are still stellar applicants and poor applicants are just poor applicants without a test score. Therefore, if you had a good chance of getting into T10s before COVID, you still have around the same chance now because there are more test optional applicants that are less favourable to colleges than there are test optional applicants more favourable to colleges.
Now I still agree with the fact that the admissions rate has gone down. Harvard, for example, was at 4.92% but following an increase of 17,000 applications it dipped down to 3.4%. From a realistic standpoint, most kids dream school is Harvard. Every parent wants their kid to go to Harvard. When a poor applicant has a poor test score, they hope that Harvard's test optionality will be enough to get them into the school(For any of you who followed the Harvard lawsuit, they would have an overall rating between 3-5). If you take students like those out of the mix, the admissions rate would be around a 4.4%. In conclusion, the rates have dropped but not as much as many CVers overexaggerate.
TL;DR The quantity of the applicants have increased but not the quality resulting in the admissions % not dropping as much as you think
Let me know what you guys think about this in the comments!
4. Historically speaking, if you look at the last 50 years of admit rates, all the top colleges are getting harder to get into. Regardless of the various recessions, stock market or housing market crashes, wars, or pandemics, more and more students still want the opportunity to attend the best schools. If you watch this video, there is nothing to indicate that rates will ever go back up and be easier at the best colleges. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lcvx5MTaIOo
Response to 4.
Historically speaking, you are correct however, if COVID had never happened and test-optionality was never a thing, admissions rates would still go down. Due to population growth this will always happen. My point still stands that the quality of applications has not increased as a result of COVID
I completely disagree.
1. All the Ivys and Elites are striving to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion on their campuses. In other words, they are all doing their utmost to do what is most politically correct regardless of whether it's counterintuitive to admit applicants based on merit alone. The increase in affirmation action which favors BIPOC and or Low-Income students means that it is harder for some Caucasians to get into Ivys, especially if they are not legacy, recruited athletes, or extremely wealthy. 68% of Princeton's class of 2025 identified as a person of color. So if you are in the 1/3rd that is White, you will find it harder to get into Princeton. Much is true with all the Ivys.
Response to 1.
Ivys have said that your are evaluated based on your peers, whether that be economic, geographic or ethnic. Colleges will evaluate BIPOC and other low-income students based on other BIPOC and other low-income students. You can't expect a BIPOC to be compared to a rich asian bause there are clear environmental factors. Also, colleges tend to keep their class demographic the same(they may favour BIPOC but they won't make them a plurality). Test optionality benefits BIPOC but since BIPOC compete against their peers of the same ethnicity, they all receive a boost resulting in no net advantages or disadvantages. Therefore its not harder for caucasians because they have to compete against other caucasians. If everyone has an advantage, then no one has an advantage relative to each other. (sorry if this doesn't make sense, I can re-explain if you would like)
That makes sense but by a certain year (I forgot which year, oops) about half of the population will be mixed race. So as that becomes more true the purely White population will also go down. So I think it would balance out to a degree.
5. I absolutely think that successful applicants admitted to top schools have to be much more exceptional in many more areas than they did in the past. When colleges like Stanford and Harvard use over 200 data points as criteria to score applicants then it's NOT good enough JUST to have a high GPA and test scores. In fact, I'm certain that if they accepted everyone with a 4.0 GPA they'd run out of schools because the top 50 colleges couldn't accommodate every 4.0 A student. Holistic admissions just make it much more complicated for those who are narrow-focused academicians.
Response to 5.
This proves my point because since we established that better students academically, on average have better test scores and have better ECs then if a student applied test optional because they had worse test scores then they would also have worse grades and worse ECs. Therefore, test optionality is a sign of overall profile weakness meaning that there is only just an increase of low quality applicants
I really enjoyed discussing this and hearing your input though! Thanks for contributing to the discussion!
Overall I agree. Being test optional and having more applicants makes selective non ivys look more elite. It lowers their stats of admission due the quantity but overall the quality is still the same. regardless as you said if a student had good chances at a school before the new policy won't change that. Another thing is that without test scores like the SAT colleges will have to turn to other things to evaluate you. Students that had high changes would of already had a solid profile including EC's without the scores. at least around me students seem to have had the assumption that with good score you could get anywhere, that is not the case. You need to be a well rounded student not just be at the top academically.
One thing I did want to say about minorities being Latina is that not having score could hurt us more. This may only be from the community around me in my state but we are often not allowed to participate in outside EC's unless it is part of school. All my Latino friends parents are like this so maybe it's a culture thing. So for some of us having a test score would actually help us as it is something else we could use to show for ourselves.
3. There are no signs of the applicant pool returning to Pre-Covid levels because many colleges are pro-DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) and they all know that standardized test hurt the most marginalized students, and at the same time they want the best and the brightest. So by keeping the admissions process test-optional, each top college can "cherry-pick" the from the largest pool of applicants to build their class the way they see fit. Ivys and Elites are like luxury brands, similar to Gucci, LV, and Supreme. So if they limit the supply or not grow the supply, then demand keeps going up around the world. The world grew 4 billion people in the last 50 years but Ivy league freshman class sizes are still about the same.
Response to 3.
This still doesn't disprove my point that while the quantity of applications increase the average quality only marginally improves
2. Many International Students were left out of the application pool due to Trump-era student VISA restrictions. Now that there is easing in certain countries with the anticipation that student travel and temporary residency will return to pre-Covid levels, we will see an influx of highly qualified Int'l students in the next and future cycles aiming to take part in this hyper-competitive environment. Simply put, they will grow the application pool, pushing admit rates down.
Response to 2.
I have to concede this one, I didn't think of that however, similar to my response to 1. most colleges have caps on international students which means it will only be more competitive for 10% of the student body and considering intl. admissions are so low it will only go down 1 or 2% from the 3-4% that it is at top colleges which isn't that much and also, international students are likely to get into a good college in their respective country so its better that they don't get into a US college but into their home country's college than a US student not get into a US college and have nowhere else to go
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