The Year That Was in Elite College Admissions

Applications surged at some, though not all, elite universities this year (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Now that our nation’s elite universities have all released decisions for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, we thought we’d take a look back to point out some discernible trends to our readers. So what happened this year in admissions? Well, among the Ivy League institutions, applications spiked at Harvard University, Yale University, and Brown University, while applications dipped slightly at Dartmouth College (though the College on the Hill boasted the same record-low admission rate as last year) along with the University of Pennsylvania. The acceptance rates at Harvard, Yale, and Brown also dropped to historic lows. Meanwhile, Princeton University, Cornell University, and Columbia University have yet to release their admissions figures for the Class of 2026, though we’ll post the numbers soon enough (Early Decision applications were down slightly this past fall at Columbia). Among other elite schools, Duke University, Northwestern University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also set new record application tallies.

It Wasn’t As Tough As Last Year

Last year, for the Class of 2025, as our readers may recall, we wrote of the sobering admissions figures — with our nation’s elite universities experiencing application surges like never before. At some elite universities, applications rose by margins of up to 66% — as was the case at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This year, for the Class of 2026, while many elite universities set new application benchmarks, most only beat last year’s figures by relatively smaller margins — not by the kind of historic margins of last year. Additionally, for those who believe that it was harder to get into elite colleges this year because the admission rates were slightly down and applications were slightly up at many of them, think again. Last year, due to all of the students admitted to the Class of 2025 who opted to take gap years on account of the pandemic, there were about 20% fewer seats available at many top universities. That simply wasn’t the case this year. So, yes, it was — without question — easier to earn admission to these schools for the Class of 2026 than it was for the Class of 2025. Yes, no matter how loudly or how vociferously a parent of an applicant to the Class of 2026 tells you it was the hardest year ever, it most certainly was not.

Perfect Sweeps for Ivy Coach’s Applicants

For Ivy Coach, it was yet another banner year for our students as well. For the Class of 2026, we experienced perfect sweeps of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, MIT, and many other elite schools. All of our students who completed applications with us to these universities and applied Early Action / Early Decision got in. Our one student who was deferred at Cornell in the Early round to the Class of 2026? Well, that student got in Regular Decision to Cornell. And all of Ivy Coach’s students who come to us before their senior year apply in the Early round of admissions — because why wouldn’t they when it’s so much easier to get in Early Action / Early Decision than it is in Regular Decision?

The Reason for the Application Surges

So our readers may be left wondering: after last year’s historic, flashy new records, how did these schools set even more benchmarks this year? Well, keep in mind, elite universities get better and better each year at getting students to apply — irrespective of how qualified or not qualified these students may be. This year, due to the easing up of COVID-19 era restrictions, college tours and information sessions were back up and running as well at many elite universities. And test-optional policies, which encourage more students to apply since it removes a barrier to entry, remained firmly in place at just about every elite university, except Georgetown University (MIT recently reinstated testing requirements as well in admissions).

Have a question about the year that was in elite college admissions for the 2021-2022 cycle? Let us know your question by posting it below. We look forward to hearing from you!

 
 

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1 Comment

  • Eric Chen says:

    Cornell’s application went up- from 67,000 last year to 71,000+ this year. Of that number, they accepted only 4,908 students, hence an acceptance rate of 6.9%.

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