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College Admission Is Getting Harder, Not Easier.

Attention high school students and their parents! 

College admissions trends have been changing significantly these past few years. Some may say the changes are for the better. However, the reality is college just got a whole lot harder to get accepted to.

While the test-optional trend could end in a few years, right now colleges are placing a bigger emphasis on other criteria in the college admission process. If you’re not keeping up with what’s happening in college admissions, you’ll find out the hard way that perfect GPA’s and high test scores are not enough to get admitted nowadays.

So here is what you need to know:

1. Applications to colleges and universities have risen to new highs, but there are no more seats.

For the high school students graduating in 2023, many colleges and universities received record numbers of applications. However, these schools don’t have any additional room to fit more students. So when more students apply for a limited number of seats, the competition goes up as well.

I’m not just talking about “Ivy” schools either. More and more public State universities have rejection rates over 75%. The very institutions meant to educate the masses don’t have enough room to do so.

2. Applying Early Decision or Early Action doesn’t necessarily improve your odds.

Historically, highly qualified students would strategically apply via Early Decision or Early Action to improve their chances of getting admitted. At first, that strategy seemed to work more often than not. However, the number of ED and EA applicants also have risen dramatically. Many schools have announced in 2023 that they have rejected more ED and EA applicants than ever before.

3. Demonstrating Interest in a College is Becoming More Important.

Schools that are concerned about their ranking are paying attention to their yield rate – the number of students that actually enroll compared to how many the school admitted. A low yield rate hurts a school’s ranking. Many admissions officers feel that if a student has demonstrated interest in their school, the student is more likely to attend if offered admissions. So schools are paying more attention to if a student has done a campus visit or interacted with the regional admissions officer.

This can be difficult for some students though. If they live in a different part of the country, it can get very expensive traveling to a school’s campus tour… just to prove you’re genuinely interested. So I recommend at minimum signing up for the school’s mailing list. That’s at least one way to demonstrate your interest.

4. Colleges have their own goals when creating an incoming class.

Colleges don’t want well-rounded students. Rather, colleges want someone who stands out in a particular way. So if you are doing what everyone else is doing, you get lost in the crowd. For any number of reasons, a college may decide they need to bolster their Classics program despite the fact they are known for their Engineering program. So in that particular year, they may look to admit more students expressing interest in Classics and less in the Engineering program.

On a related note, colleges usually seek to create a diverse campus. Diversity can create a richer education experience for the students. So a college may intentionally target a certain under-represented demographic and admit more of them compared to other demographics that already have a lot of representation.

I could go on, but the point is it’s harder to get into college nowadays.

Some schools publish marketing materials saying it’s easier during this trail period of being test-optional, but the cold hard data shows otherwise. If you want a leg-up on the competition, start planning for college as early as the 9th grade. It doesn’t have to be hardcore, but I have found this to be the best time to start.

Keep an eye out for my other post on things you should be doing to help improve your chances of getting admitted into college. Or reach out to MAC and we can talk about we help families navigate the complicated college admissions process.