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Understanding The New College Admissions Criteria of 2021


After 50 years of seemingly no change in the college admissions process, the pandemic has forced colleges across the country to reinvent how they select candidates for their colleges and universities. Send Your Kids to College has been keeping up with the changes across the country, and we are here to help with your family's certified college planning specialists.


The SAT/ACT Dilemma


Much of the admissions decisions for colleges is based on standardized test scores from the SAT and ACT. Last march, when the country locked down, testing for the SAT/ACT became difficult to almost impossible for students and school districts. Test centers closed, and those that did not, were put through the difficulties of trying to administer the test safely, which also, is near impossible to do contactless.


Colleges caught on quickly that students that would be enrolling in the 2021 school year, likely will not have SAT or ACT scores on their admissions applications. According to a report from PBS, nearly half of the admissions applications were missing test scores. This forced colleges to change their admissions policies. SAT and ACT scores are no longer required for nearly all college and universities.


The New Burden for College Admissions Departments


With one big identifier of the IQ and overall academic ability of hopeful college students now gone, admissions departments have scrambled to come up with new ways to evaluate students on their college readiness and aptitudes. Some colleges, like Bowdoin College in Maine, got very creative. Bowdoin launched an application that prospective students have the option to download to help the college get to know them better.


The app does one thing—asks one question, and the student then has 30 seconds to prepare an answer and then two minutes to video record their answer. The questions are not typical to college admissions applications. One of the questions asked was, “When was the last time you felt inspired and how did you proceed?” Whitney Soule, Senior vice president and dean of admissions at Bowdoin said, “It’s really hard to bomb, [and] every video tells the team a lot about an applicant.”


The Holistic Approach


Many college admissions departments have a more holistic approach to reviewing applications. According to Jeff Selingo, Author of “Who gets in and why- A year inside college Admissions”, colleges look at high school grades, extracurriculars, volunteer work, and other criteria before ever looking at standardized test scores. Colleges want to gather a complete image of who the student is that is applying, not simply their scores, as scores do not define the student. With the absence of the tests, more weight is placed in other areas, like the essay portion of the application.


The Essay Just got Bigger


Students applying to college “should think twice before submitting 650 words on ‘How I Spend My COVID-19 Staycation”, according to Jeff Schiffman, director of undergraduate admissions at Tulane University. Students need to keep in mind that these essays are read by people. People that have as well had to struggle through the near year long pandemic. Admissions reviewers do have empathy in reading the trials and tribulations of prospective students through this difficult time, but more effort should be spent on what makes a student uniquely qualified and why they wish to attend the school they are applying to. College prep in WNY can be hard to come by, but at SYKTC, we can help with the heavy lifting by offering help with admissions essays, applying for and understanding The Excelsior Scholarship, and much more.


The Testing Barrier is Gone…For Now


Admissions tests have long been a barrier for students that are hopeful to go to college. Before the pandemic hit, there were many colleges that did not require students to take standardized tests to apply, and now that it has become impossible, students need not take them at this given time. This allows students the opportunity to show more of where they shine outside of testing.


Aiming High


As discussed in our last blog entry, this change in admissions criteria has changed the way students apply to college. Top tier or elite college have seen a huge increase in applications with the absence of admissions testing. Without the SAT/ACT students with great GPA’s and an otherwise exemplary resumes can apply with more confidence to schools that would have been a reach before. This trend has done the opposite to non-top tier schools.


Now is The Time


With overall college admissions applications down 3% nationwide, and freshman applications down 13%, colleges and universities are finding it difficult to fill the rolls. Many colleges have started to tap into their waitlisted students to ensure that enrollment numbers stay consistent, but with the uncertainty of what the future holds, some students are holding off on starting their higher education journeys. However, as statistics show, of the students who wait a year or two after high school to attend college, only 40% complete a degree program.


We are Here to Help


If you or your child is applying or considering applying for college, we at Send Your Kids To College are here to help. From help with filling out your FAFSA for you to tutoring and financial guidance, we can put you and your student in position to succeed moving forward through this difficult time. Give us a call or leave your information here and we will help you move forward with higher education.

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