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How the test-optional wave will impact college admissions

Posted by Neal Schwartz on February 25, 2021

how the test-optional wave will impact college admsissions


In the midst of college application season, students are at a critical moment in their lives as they navigate how to apply to college during a pandemic. While financial stress due to lost jobs and a battered economy has burdened those most vulnerable, the newfound leniency at the most competitive colleges and universities has motivated those who previously might not have made the cut. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the result is a wide gap in applications across the board. The most competitive schools are seeing a boom in applications, while less selective schools are struggling to hook applicants. Why is this and what are this trend’s implications on the future of students and college?

 Average students take a shot at the Ivy Leagues

 Because some of the most competitive colleges have been cutting their testing requirements, students that were low test performers are now feeling an increase in confidence. This results in an application boom. The article cites, “The nation’s most-selective four-year institutions, both public and private, saw a record-breaking 17 percent increase in applications this year, according to the Common App. Small liberal arts schools felt a boon, with applications to Haverford and Swarthmore increasing by 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively. So did large state schools like the University of California, Los Angeles, where freshman applications increased 28 percent.”

 With such an increase in application numbers, that could also mean an increase in competition. Whereas in the past a test score might be the factor that determined one student’s admittance over another, the lines are blurrier now. However, just because the SATs and ACTs are no longer required at certain schools, this does not mean that these tests are not helpful to the overall profile of the student.

 These tests were developed and used for years to evaluate concrete skills that students will need to thrive in their college courses, like reading comprehension, grammar and essay organization and math skills. Even despite the current context, there still is a place for testing as well as a holistic approach to application review. To best get a sense of the student’s performance and motivation, these approaches will coincide and operate for the good of the student applicant.

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Topics: College Applications, college admissions, college interview, SAT/ACT, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, test optional, college forecast, SUNY, State University of New York, Swarthmore, YPIE, Haverford, UCLA

Will College admissions be more competitive than ever?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on February 04, 2021

Will college admissions be more competitive than ever for 2021-2022 high school graduates?

With application deadlines nearing for some, students and parents have shared a fear that college admissions will become more competitive as a result of the pandemic. A number of factors are contributing to this fear, such as a theoretical increase in international student applicants that were unable to attend US colleges and universities last year, and those taking “gap years” flooding the applicant pool for fall 2021 admission in hopes that the pandemic will “clear.”

On the flip side, financially-strapped families and those who don’t believe that remote learning is worth the extreme financial commitment of college might be hesitating about certain applications. They also might be more heavily considering colleges that are closer to home, to facilitate any potential future problems should another lockdown occur.

From what we’ve seen so far, despite these conflicting factors across populations of students, all indications from many colleges are that they do not expect a boom in applicants for the next couple of years. Some suggest that the reticence of certain families and the risks of others will end up with a balance in the applicant pool.

Starting from last week, some colleges have been releasing information about either the surge or decline in their admissions. According to an article in InsideHigherEd, these statistics can be explained by a variety of reasons.

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Topics: College Costs, College Applications, college admissions, college interview, SAT/ACT, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, virtual tours, high school junior, test optional, college forecast

College Board Drops the SAT Optional Essay and Subject Tests

Posted by Neal Schwartz on January 20, 2021

In response to the crippling effect that the pandemic has had on colleges and students, the College Board has decided to make major changes to testing. Effective June 2021, the SAT optional essay and SAT subject tests will be discontinued. According to a New York Times article, “The changes to the SAT come as more and more colleges are dropping the requirement that students take the test, as well as its competitor the ACT, a trend driven in part by concerns about equity that received a boost during the pandemic.”

These decisions have been made in part to ease the administrative costs of taking the tests on a company that was hit significantly by COVID-19, as tests were cancelled and postponed. However, the main resultant is some reduction in student stress revolving around college entrance exams. With these tests discontinued, students will have more time to focus on pursuing academic success in their classes and beyond.

The College Board recognizes the extreme toll that the pandemic has taken on students, and is therefore adapting to the current landscape. But what are the ramifications of these decisions for students?

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Topics: College Costs, College Applications, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, SAT/ACT, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, Guidance Counselors, virtual tours

How COVID-19 is changing the way we finance college

Posted by Neal Schwartz on January 07, 2021

While the pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, one silver lining is the changes to core Financial Aid submission. According to a recent article in Forbes by Mark Kantrowitz, the FAFSA will be undergoing massive changes in response to the COVID-19 relief bill. According to the FAFSA Simplification Act, financial aid determination will be adapted from both the federal and institutional levels. 

However, these changes will not be coming in the near term, but rather will affect the Freshman class of 2023—current high school Sophomores. It will of course have an impact on the earlier classes as Financial Aid is required to be submitted and reviewed each year prior to a student’s college year.

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Topics: College Costs, College Applications, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, SAT/ACT, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, Guidance Counselors, virtual tours

Are the SATs and ACTs still necessary?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on December 15, 2020

Due mostly to the pandemic, nearly 75% of colleges have gone the test optional approach, many of which are extending test optional policies forward several years. The question of how important the SAT and ACT tests will be for the upcoming graduating classes has resulted in many opinions.  Is the pivot to test optional for college admission going to be a temporary or long-term situation? To predict what may happen, it is wise to take a broader historic view.

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Topics: College Costs, College Applications, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, SAT/ACT, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, Guidance Counselors, virtual tours

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