Applying during the pandemic: are your chances better or worse?


Matthew Kim

Schools with acceptance rates high and low may see some different stats this acceptance season.

Matthew Kim, Segments Editor

With the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down test centers, shifting school online, and cancelling extracurriculars, the college applications process for seniors is looking very different from years past. There has been a dramatic shift in not only how students are assembling their college applications, but how these applications are being reviewed. 

Seniors may be wondering, “Are my chances better or worse for getting into college this year?” The answer is complicated. As a whole, across the board there has been a drop in undergraduate enrollment, yet this doesn’t exactly translate to an increase in acceptance rates.

“Most [universities] have seen a loss of students. What may happen next year is that institutions will be looking for more students to fill their classes, ” said CEO of the National Association for College Admission Counseling Angel Perez (CNBC).

For students applying to less prestigious colleges, it is expected that students will have a much better chance of admissions to these schools. However, at prestigious universities, such as the Ivies, there will be no problem filling the applicant pool.

Last month, the release of early decisions/restricted early action decisions has confirmed what many have expected. Applications to prestigious universities, such as the Ivies, have skyrocketed. Harvard saw a 57% increase in early applications, with double digit increases across the board at every single ivy. 

According to Harvard Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons, “the significant increase in the number of applicants can be attributed to three key factors: a financial aid program “unlike the world has ever seen” during a global recession, heightened online recruiting efforts for international students, and Harvard’s decision to make standardized tests optional,” according to The Crimson.

This trend has continued across the board with even universities in the T-50 seeing drastic increases in their early admissions plans. Paired with record gap years from the class of 2024, early admissions has dropped at every Ivy and most prestigious universities. 

However, for most universities in the country, it is still expected that there will be an increase in admissions, especially as many colleges worry about meeting their enrollment targets amidst the global pandemic. With the pandemic having widespread financial consequences, many colleges with smaller endowments and less prestige will be more likely to increase admissions.

While applying for admission to prestigious universities is looking to be more challenging than ever,  students should be reassured that their chances for at admission should be better than ever at most universities across the country.