During a year in which applications skyrocketed to the vast majority of America’s elite universities, applications dipped at one of our nation’s top liberal arts colleges. At Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, applications dropped — albeit only by around 1% so no need to ring the alarm bells — from 9,402 for the Class of 2024 to 9,309 for the Class of 2025. It marked the final year that Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Whitney Soule was charged with leading the admissions office at Bowdoin since she has since been named Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, replacing Eric Furda, a longtime hero of this college admissions blog for his straightforwardness and candor. So why the drop in applications to Bowdoin this year?
Applications to Bowdoin College Class of 2025 Dip Slightly
As Lily Randall reports for The Bowdoin Orient in a piece entitled “Total applications down slightly for Class of 2025,” “This decrease in overall applications is due to a lower-than-usual number of early decision I (ED I) applicants, despite early decision II (ED II) and regular decision application numbers being higher than those for previous years. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Whitney Soule attributed this decline to peer institutions adopting test-optional admissions policies due to the pandemic. Bowdoin has been test-optional since 1969. ‘We are noticing that our competitive peers who have become test-optional this year due to the pandemic are seeing increases in applications, while schools that have been test-optional prior to the pandemic are not seeing those increases,’ Soule wrote in an email to the Orient. ‘While Bowdoin has been recognized for introducing test-optional admissions in 1969 and been a high-profile advocate ever since, the test-optional space for the most selective schools is crowded this year.'”
Ivy Coach Forecasts Applications to Bowdoin and Many Highly Selective Universities Will Dip for the Class of 2026
Dean Soule’s explanation makes good sense to us. With just about every highly selective university switching to “test-optional” this year due to the pandemic and, yes, we do put that term in quotations, it may have filled some students who otherwise would have applied to Bowdoin, which has long been test-optional, with the courage to take a bigger swing in the Early Decision I round. But let’s not get too carried away. It’s not like applications to Bowdoin dropped significantly this year; applications dropped less than 1%. Nonetheless, we’ll be keeping an eye on Bowdoin’s application numbers for the Class of 2026 to see if applications continue to dip. And, in fact, Ivy Coach’s famously accurate crystal ball is ready to make a forecast: we predict applications to Bowdoin College will be lower for the Class of 2026 than the Class of 2025 — as we expect applications will dip at many highly selective universities after a year in which they rose precipitously. We don’t anticipate that Bowdoin will be an exception to this rule. You heard it here first.
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