top of page

Admission Trends for the Rising Class of 2021

As seniors across the country start to receive college decisions we begin to turn our attention to admission trends that are emerging this year.

1.  The Early Bird Catches the Worm.  This year we expect to see admission percentages continue to decline as the number of college applicants rises. In addition, early decision and early action applications are on the rise with some colleges filling 50% of their class with early applicants. Early decision is binding and requires that the students withdraw all other applications. If admitted via early decision, a student is committed to attend, so using the ED route as a strategy to sway admission in your favor can be difficult if the student needs to consider merit aid before committing to a college. However, many schools offer non-binding early action allowing the student an earlier decision on their application and in some cases merit awards are extended at the time of the offer of admission. Both early decision and early action decisions start arriving in the beginning of December through the end of January depending on the college. For example, in 2016-2017 the University of Pennsylvania (which admits approximately 12% of all applicants) admitted 22% of early decision/early action candidates. Students applying to the country’s most selective universities are looking to increase their chances of admission and taking advantage of early decision/early action can be a strategy that pays off. 

In schools such as the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University, which use rolling admission, we have also seen the benefit of applying early. Rolling admissions is when a college makes admission decisions as applications are received. If there are merit awards available, those may also be extended as the application is received and reviewed. For instance, our College Application Boot Campers who attended our August camp and had their admissions package prepared in early September were able to have positive admissions decisions in hand by the first week in October from their rolling admission schools. As the application pool increases it has become more important to prepare your application package, including your essays as early as possible and consider available filing deadlines in your overall strategy for success.

2.  Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – Oh My! Most of our students understand the role social media can play in the college admissions process. Certainly it can have a positive impact when the student signs up and follows updates on the schools to which they are applying. It is always a good idea to know what is happening on the campus for future interviews with admissions officers, essays and to help you evaluate the campus and community. Obviously social media can also have a negative impact when students are careless about what they post or tweet and the admissions officer is watching. Students should know that admissions have become more holistic and in order to get a better understanding of a student it is not unusual for admissions counselors to search social media. 

In addition, colleges are starting to use ZeeMee, a multimedia platform that helps the student tell their story beyond the standard admissions essay. Approximately 180 colleges are accepting ZeeMee videos as an optional part of the student application for admission.  However, at this time no college is requiring ZeeMee as part of the application package. We look for this to change as colleges look for ways to distinguish candidates in the sea of meritorious applicants.  We have reviewed many ZeeMee videos and some are quite clever and a definite plus to the student’s application. However, some are not because the student is not as comfortable on camera, etc. You always want to put your best foot forward, so if you plan to add a ZeeMee video to your application for consideration make sure you take the time to create something that is an enhancement to your application.

3. Demonstrated interest has become more important. One of the most important aspects of the college application process can be the campus visit. We encourage our students to begin visiting campuses as soon as possible to begin to get an idea of what type of school the student can see themselves attending.  Likewise, college admissions want to know that you are truly interested in their school because you took the time to get to know the campus, students, academic programs etc. Colleges want to offer admission to those who are truly interested and they use the “why do you want to attend xxx University?” essay prompt to determine which candidates have really done their research.  As college admissions becomes more competitive the need to show demonstrated interest becomes more important in the application process. There are many ways other than the campus visit to show you are interested. You can meet admission counselors at local college fairs or when they visit your high school. You can also email your admissions counselor to ask questions and set up a meeting for when they are traveling through your area.  Demonstrated interest is not only important to receive an offer of admission, but may also impact any merit awards the student receives. 

590 views0 comments


bottom of page