Pandemic and College Admission Predictions for 2021-22 Academic Year
After a scathing report of college admission scandals in 2019, the college board looked to 2020 to wipe its slate clean. Maybe the past year did just that, but not in the way anybody expected when COVID-19 struck and things changed. Now, 2021 has kicked off in earnest, but unfortunately, we still haven’t been able to shake this pandemic off. Many families still struggle to adjust to the new restrictions, and the educational system has not fared much better either.
What has changed since 2020 and what should we expect from the 2021-22 academic year? Having analyzed patterns and gotten feedback from relevant voices, we can expect the following college admission trends for the next 12 months:
Standard tests will no longer be necessary
Colleges no longer emphasize SAT or ACT scores. About 500 schools made college admissions tests optional towards the end of 2020 and that number exceeded 900 in the first month of 2021. This trend will likely continue well into late 2021 and early 2022. But as more applicants opt out of writing the tests, will it increase other students’ chances of getting into schools without a test score? The answer is not as straightforward as it seems.
While test scores are no longer part of the requirements for colleges, some admissions committees still prefer students who have them. We can see a black-and-white example of this from Penn’s admission statistics for the class of 2025. The University recorded its lowest acceptance rate for early applicants in recent history. About 38% of early applicants opted out of college admissions testing. Afterward, only 24% of successful candidates did not submit test scores.
The university may refute the relationship between admission rates and test scores. After all, these test-optional policies will give more students a chance to throw their hats into the ring. While using one school’s admission rates as a yardstick is not enough, the statistics outlined above are not encouraging for students who cannot afford standardized tests in these difficult times.
More students will defer their admission or take a gap year
As the pandemic forces families into financial hardships, we may see more students take a break from schooling. Presumably, the number of students taking a gap in the 2021-22 academic year will increase starting from last year. For some students, it may just be business as usual. For others, financial responsibilities may begin to pile up, forcing them to take a break to sort themselves out. These students could decide to relegate education during COVID-19.
Yet, not all reasons for the gap year will be grim. The pandemic has redefined the future of work and students could start experimenting with alternative career paths. Other young adults may find interests that they want to pursue outside of schooling. Activism and other social movements have been on the rise recently, and they will play a part in luring students away from applying for college straight after high school.
Merit aid will be linked to high school grades
As test results will slowly fade away in the coming academic year, it’s fair to assume that such a paradigm shift should not affect the procedure by which colleges offer financial aid to students. But the big question is, how will colleges grant financial aid if students don’t submit their test scores?
Colleges will still have to offer discounts to students - that much is certain. When students choose not to submit test results, the board will not just provide financial aid to those who submit theirs. If the policies are truly test-optional, the provisions for financial assistance have to be open to all.
Experts are still looking at this problem. The likeliest outcome is a scenario where an admissions board will consider students for financial aid based on their high school grades. Some college admission officers already follow this procedure when admitting students, and it is only expected to rise.
In-person administration will make a comeback
Following the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, our nation has renewed hope and unity in the face of this pandemic. If the light at the end of the tunnel opens into a new dawn, we can expect some aspects of life to go back to normal. Students will keep writing their college admission essays and addressing writing services for that after reading Essaypro reviews and other reviews.
Virtual reality will also become part of everyday living and remain relevant in our educational system. It will not replace physical administration and learning. However, experts predict that it will not be relegated to the shadows either. At least, the pandemic and multiple lockdowns have taught us that virtual exchanges will not replace the need for physical interactions any time soon.
“There is a comfort now with virtual engagements - that will allow many colleges to have a broader reach than ever before,” said Mike Drish, the University of Massachusetts’ director of first-year admissions. He suggested a scenario where virtual administration and online learning will augment in-person recruitment. Ultimately, our need to create physical connections will trump the ease-of-use that virtual solutions provide.
More students will choose local universities just to be closer to home
As the physical restrictions linger, more students will instinctively apply to colleges close to home. Parents will also play a significant role in the decision-making process that will set this trend in motion. They will want to save money and not risk having their children move far from their support networks.
Insights from the College Board suggest that many students hardly considered their local universities in previous years. All of that is changing as students now look into local options. Some universities are already getting more attention than usual as students and parents keep calling them for inquiries. In light of this, university spots are expected to become more competitive for local schools.
If 2020 taught us anything, it is the foolhardiness in making plans based on predictions. A few years ago, we could tell with near-certainty where things were headed based on past and current trends.
Now, we have to be a lot more cautious with our projections. The pandemic could easily turn predictions into a mist in an hourglass. However, unless there are some really dramatic turns of events in the next few months, the above-discussed trends should redefine the college admissions scene.