The Ivy Coach Daily

September 22, 2021

We Forecast Fewer Record Application Pools This Year

As loyal readers of our college admissions blog know all too well, we at Ivy Coach have a crystal ball. Heck, our crystal ball has even been cited on the pages of America’s oldest college newspaper. And what does our crystal ball predict for this upcoming admissions cycle? It predicts fewer applications to our nation’s elite universities than last year. That’s right. We don’t anticipate that applications will rise at the vast majority of our nation’s elite universities this year. Sure, they’ll rise at some, but we expect applications to flatline or even go down a bit at many of these institutions this year. And why? Well, that’s simple.

Last year at this time, many students were stuck at home. They couldn’t go to school in person. They couldn’t as easily hang out with their friends. They were bored to tears, forced to spend exorbitant amounts of time with their parents and siblings. And, yes, they had lots of time on their hands — time many of them used to complete applications to more universities than students typically apply (and they had more chutzpah too in applying to elite universities in light of these schools going test-optional). So, naturally, applications surged to our nation’s elite universities as the anxiety surrounding the pandemic added fuel to a raging fire in elite college admissions. Applications soared to record levels and admission rates plummeted to historic lows.

But we are students of admissions trends at elite universities and, in our experience, applications aren’t going to rise at most of these schools after such an unprecedented year — especially since most students are back at school, hanging out with their friends, and generally free from home confinement. So, yes, Ivy Coach’s crystal ball hereby reiterates its prediction that applications will fall — at least somewhat — at many of our nation’s elite universities this year and admission rates will rise ever so slightly. You heard it here first. And if you’re the parent of a high school senior or a high school senior yourself and this makes you feel better, well, good! But, also, know that surging applications don’t necessarily mean it’s more competitive than ever to get in. All it means is more students are applying. As an extreme example, more C students applying to Harvard doesn’t make the Harvard applicant pool more competitive. So it’s not like this coming year will be easier than last year on account of the fewer applications. However, it will be easier — we expect — because such a huge chunk of the slots in the incoming class aren’t already earmarked for gap year students. And that sure is a win for applicants to the Class of 2026 (and their parents).

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