2 years ago
Admissions Advice

TOP Admissions Trends for 2023 (Class of 2027)

TOP Admissions Trends for 2023 (Class of 2027)

These are some thoughts for 9th-11th graders to think about the upcoming admissions cycle. Since it's a discussion, feel free to add your comments or add your suggestions/concerns to the list.

1. Application Inflation - Application inflation that started during COVID-19 will continue to be the new normal. Application inflation occurs when more applicants are crowding the Top 100 college marketplace versus applying to schools that better meet their stats and fit. Despite the shrinking overall market for college applicants as evidenced by a 9.4% drop in college enrollment during the pandemic, more and more students feel entitled to and within their rights to apply to the most competitive schools with missing Test Scores. As long as there are new COVID Variants, Monkey Pox and other major health threats to young people, colleges will continue test optional policies as a ploy to level the playing field. I don't think there are going to be the huge increases like we saw in 2020-2021. But like last year where we saw some large increases in top state schools and 2nd tier colleges like T25-T50, I think that trend will continue.

2. Low Overall Admit rates - There will be a continuation of low admit rates because Admit Rate = Number of Students Admitted given the expected yield rate/Number of Applications. So if yield rates are high, say 75%, and there are only 1500 freshman seats at an IVY , then the maximum admitted students will be 2000. And if there were 60000 that applied last year, then expect the same amount this year so 2000/60000 = 3.33% at a school like a Harvard or Columbia.

3. Low ED/EA admit rates - More and more applicants feel that getting into any Ivy or Elite or Top Liberal Arts College is better than nothing, so many are applying early because they feel they are getting some admit rate discount for applying and committing early. But the real benefits for doing this are with 2nd and 3rd tier privates not Top25 schools. When you factor in all the ALDC applicants and Questbridge, Posse and other community service early admits, the huge bump on paper might only be like a few percentage points. So applying early to Columbia if you are not an ALDC or Questbridge applicant might not be the difference between 2.96% RD and ED 10.31% but more like 3% spread. Therefore, think twice about how you want to use your ED/SCREA application slot. For instance if you know you that Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford are a super reach for you, maybe switch goals and focus on perfect fit colleges. When you apply to ED to colleges like Hamilton, Middlebury, Colgate, Wake Forest, Wash&Lee, Davidson, Vassar, Trinity, Tufts, Bowdoin, Bates, etc. you do get a real bump. Today I watched a reaction video of this person who applied to 20 of the hardest schools Ivies, Caltech, MIT, UMich, Northwestern, etc and had no target schools. So it was super depressing to see that their main focus were schools with 3-7% admit rates. They were so confident that they were going to land somewhere good but ended up settling for a safety school with a 70% admit rate. If you not one the strongest students in your HS, with the most compelling narratives, both academically and ECs, do not repeat this mistake. Find at least 3 schools that are excellent fits as targets. One of their rationales was that on youtube, there is always a happy ending so they thought they would too.

4. More International applicants - Like the last cycle, student VISAs are more available. And also some schools like Dartmouth got huge alumni gifts to give need blind admissions to International students. Therefore, there will be more Int'l students applying to top colleges. Since it costs $50,000-$60,000 more per admitted Int'l student to fully fund them since they do not qualify for PELL, State or Work study programs, only the wealthiest top colleges can truly afford the illusive all cost encompassing full ride. Therefore, there is more inequity with rich vs poor International applicants and that will continue indefinitely.

4. Course rigor still matters - Taking lots of APs and IBs are important because SAT Subject II tests have been eliminated permanently. In previous cycles, they were used to prop up course rigor and gaps in grades. They were used to show evidence of course mastery and college readiness. Now that they are gone, more emphasis will be placed on APs/ IBs and test scores. Self studying for APs are better than not taking the course however enrolling in an actual AP shows evidence and grades that the student can be successful with college level material.

5. DEI policies are still a top priority for Top Colleges - All Top Colleges are looking to improve their optics with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion, therefore they will continue to implement their own DEI criteria on who should be admitted based on race, income, disability, gender and any other factors that can be deemed marginalizing to the applicant pool. Therefore, record numbers of BIPOC and/or First Generation and/or Low Income or other applicants will be a priority for admittance to Top25 colleges.

6. Personal essays and supplemental essays will continue to play a significant role - Why? These are the only data points that are hand-crafted by each applicant using their own voice and words. Since the SAT essay has been discontinued, unless you take the ACT Essay, it's difficult for Admissions officers to gauge your writing ability including grammar, word selection, flow, and other metrics about how well you can organize your thoughts in words and effectively express them. In my opinion, the essay is sometimes the only thing that can connect all the dots (data points) in your application file together and explain why you are who you are and why you do what you do.

7. Submitting a high SAT or ACT score in most cases will help you - Why? According to the published information on successful admits, it's very clear that 2/3rd of them or more submitted ACT or SAT test scores above the 50% range from the previous cycle. We will continue to see higher ACT and SAT scores. Some 2nd tier colleges now have higher 50% percentile ranges than Ivys. Since Ivys are not the best examples of meritocracies, SAT and ACT will look more inverted. Last year NYU has a 1550 SAT median score. Your JHUs, RICEs, DUKEs, BCs, BUs, WashU, Vandy, may have higher SAT average scores than most Ivys.

8. More colleges will continue to find ways to manipulate their rankings. Some college will make careless mistakes about what they submit to US News and others will deliberately send incorrect data because it is worth the risk. This year 10 colleges are removed from the US News ranking. One thing to keep in mind is that there appears to be rampant corrupt data flows into the US New database so some schools that haven't been de-listed yet might have been sending bad data for 10 year or longer. Other schools like Tulane and NorthEastern, in my opinion have been gaming the system so their admit rates are less than 10%. Until ranking methodologies are 100% transparent and the input data is complete and publicly available for any parent or applicant to replicate the rankings list, I don't think ranking serve the greater purpose. US NEWS makes billions of dollars on its ranking business, when I think this type of service should be run by a NON-PROFIT company instead, one is trying to level the playing field and serve the public.

9. Sports are going to be more important in 2027- Now that many HS schools and Colleges have Varsity Sports again and college athletes are competing at global competitions, more top colleges will be looking to recruit DIII and DI athletes. I think the Tokyo Olympics activated something in colleges to make sure that for the 2024 Paris Olympics they can send some swimmers, divers, volleyball players, water polo players, rowers, fencers, sailors, tennis players, etc etc.

10. We will see more efficiency in the college admissions process - For the Class of 2028 we will see the benefits and impact of all new digital SAT format which will be rolled out to Int'l Students in 2023 and in the US in 2024. I don't know how successful this adaptive version will be compared to previous longer 3 1/2 hour versions. So it's safe to say that in spite of this roll out, many colleges will continue on with the test optional policies. If this is a solid replacement, then colleges will return to required testing for their applications.

11. Learning Loss is a real thing - Statistically, unless you attended a safe and secure private boarding school, most HS students suffered what is called learning loss. This is another way of saying that COVID-19 not only affected your mental and physical health during the pandemic but there is actual forensic data to support that a 1/3 or 1/2 a year of learning loss incurred for most students. What does that mean? That means the High schools are in general improperly preparing students academically for the rigors of college even though they are applying by the droves, especially hoping to get into top colleges. What 9th and 10th grades should be doing instead of jumping in to long lines with a prayer is to better prepare themselves and consider taking a GAP year, either repeating a specific HS academic year or jumping into a private day/boarding school for a PG year after high school to make sure you have a better shot at your top choices. If parents have $50-75K to spend on private college consultants, those professionals only are as good as the quality of their clients. So they can not finagle and wriggle you through the college admissions process if you are clearly missing 1/2 a year of high school, compared to the best applicants. Therefore I propose that serious high school students confer with their parents about creating a proactive plan that puts them back on track.

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2 years ago[edited]

What are the Questbridge, Posse and other community service admits and why do they have a better chance? Also, if you're an athlete and you get recruited, does that guarantee admission (if you apply EA/ED)? Thanks!

🎤2 years ago[edited]

Since many high achieving low income students are not aware of their real chances of applying to Top 50 colleges, non-profits like Questbridge bridge the gap by matching them with colleges looking for them. Last year Questbridge reviewed 16500 applicants, selected 6312 to the next round and matched 1674 with full ride scholarships to 45 Top colleges during ED/EA rounds. Questbridge finalists can select up to 12 ED/EA schools while everyone else gets to pick 1. So if you rank 12 schools, you are applying to 12X as many schools ED and this ups your chances exponentially. You have to attend the school that was the highest rank that selected you so if you picked Stanford #2 and got in, you are going to Stanford.

🎤2 years ago[edited]

You do not know whether the other 10 schools bid on you or not. All you know is that your #1 school, say MIT, passed on you. Let's move on to recruited athletes. The recruitment process begins as early a 9th or 10th grade if you are star Varsity athlete. In most cases the recruiters have made contact with you by 11th grade and those who have had team tryouts, interviews, or visited with future coaches have a verbal idea of getting in prior to applying to the school. But it doesn't mean it's a firm offer unless it comes in prior to ED/EA application deadline. So you might have strong support from Stanford, Princeton and Harvard to play water polo, but you kind of have to pick your strongest school first since they are all SCREA schools (Single Choice Restricted early action). So lets say you pick Harvard, there is still a chance you won't get accepted. And then if you get deferred or rejected, you have to apply to Stanford and Princeton and other schools RD to make sure you have place to go to.

🎤2 years ago[edited]

Colleges always hedge themselves by making more verbal indications of interest than firm offers because each school still has a yield issue. So Brown is looking for 10 Water polo players, they are going to tell 14 they want them, because the yield rate is like 70%.

2 years ago

Ohhh I see. Thank you so much!


2 years ago

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