If you’re a student applying to college this year, you probably already know that with respect to the highly selective college admissions process, you were born in the wrong year. We know it hurts to hear but, hey, we tell it like it is at Ivy Coach. And why were you born in the wrong year when it comes to navigating the churning waters of the college admissions process? Because there will be fewer seats available to members of your class. You see, the big chunk of students who chose to take gap years and the international students who just couldn’t come this year to join the members of the Class of 2024 led elite colleges to admit droves of students off their waitlists. And just like in Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat Comes Back with respect to the pink ring on the bathtub that then gets on Mother’s white dress before landing on the wall, when the students deferred their admission, the colleges admitted waitlisted students, filling the seats of the Class of 2024. So which seats are those admits to the Class of 2024 who chose to defer their admission going to fill? The seats for the Class of 2025. But while there will indeed be fewer seats for the Class of 2025, which will make for a very competitive year, should knowing all of this change how a student approaches the process this year?
Lots Has Changed in Elite College Admissions This Year
No, it is our advice that students applying for admission to elite colleges this year should approach the process as though nothing has changed. Now, have some things changed? You bet. There’s a deadly pandemic impacting people around the world, including here at home in the United States. In the world of elite college admissions, the vast majority of highly selective colleges have gone test-optional for the year. Students from all around the world have had to grapple with test cancelations: they sign up for an SAT or ACT, they go to the site, the test gets canceled, they sign up again, they go to the site, rinse, and repeat. That’s all in addition to college tours and information sessions being canceled across the board, Princeton dropping Early Action for the year, a judge in California telling the UC schools that asking for SAT / ACT scores is no longer lawful, and MIT and Yale forbidding the submission of SAT Subject Tests. And we’re just getting started.
But You Should Pretend as Though Little Has Changed
But for students applying this Early Decision / Early Action cycle, what do we suggest you do in response to all these changes? That’s easy. Pretend as though nothing has changed. Take the online college tours. Pretend test-optional policies don’t exist. All else being equal, a college will always favor an applicant with a great SAT or ACT score over a student who doesn’t submit a score — no matter what any college may tell you to the contrary. “But, Ivy Coach, that’s easier said than done. The test keeps getting canceled where I live.” Our response? “Which test centers did you check out?” “The ones around where we live,” they say. “Broaden your search. Get an n95 and road trip it to a state that foolishly isn’t taking COVID-19 as seriously as they should…because you just might find an available seat at a test center that doesn’t cancel the test. Think of it as a family adventure! Who hasn’t wanted to go to Nebraska?”
We know. We get it. You don’t want to go to Nebraska. But maybe the silver lining is that at least you’ll get to visit Mount Rushmore? Oh wait. That’s in South Dakota. We must’ve been absent that day in sixth grade geography class.
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