Are stories of record-breaking numbers of college applicants and early acceptance striking fear, panic and thoughts of deferring college? 

In this post, I’ll show you that despite the high numbers, there’s still some good news out there. 

First, a quick look at the numbers.

  • Common App applications are up by 10% overall, accounting for almost 1 million students, with applications to larger, more competitive colleges up by 16% but down by 4% for smaller, less competitive colleges. 
  • Students applied to 9% more colleges this year than they did last year.
  • 67% of colleges are now SAT/ACT test-optional
  • Early applications to schools like MIT, Harvard, and Columbia are up by over 50%.

So, yes, the numbers are high, but if you peel back that first layer, there is some good news out there.

For instance, could the lower number of applications at many smaller colleges mean more opportunities for your student? 

According to Inside Higher ED, SUNY New Paltz applications are down by 14% but the number of  admitted students increased by 4.1% Commenting on this, Jeffrey D. Gant, vice president for enrollment management at SUNY New Paltz, said “The fact that we’re experiencing this increase in admitted students is a testament to our ability to find right-fit students who connect with the mission and culture of SUNY New Paltz.” 

Could it be that your student’s right fit is at one of these smaller colleges?

In addition, the number of applications from first-generation applicants and those who qualify for fee-waivers is down. 

While troubling, this serves as an indicator to first-generation & low-income families that more opportunities exist for them at universities looking to attract applicants from those groups. 

Case in point:  applications to the University of California system rose by 16% overall but, due in part to its efforts to recruit a more diverse student body, Black applicants increased by 48% at both UCLA and Berkley and Latino applicants increased by 33% at UCLA and 36% at Berkley, according to the Los Angeles Times.

So with a thoughtful approach, you can still leverage and create the best opportunities possible for your student. 

Take, for example, a student I recently worked with, Anna Scott. Not only is Anna accepted at multiple schools, including Rhodes College, Furman University, Samford University, Wheaton College and Clemson University, she has also earned several thousand dollars in scholarship offers. How did we achieve that amidst all the chaos of college admissions this year? With a thoughtful approach. We curated her college list based on her best matches AND her highest chances of being awarded significant scholarships.

How do you maximize the opportunities available to your student right now?

  • Start by favoring your student’s fit at a school above the school’s prestige. Be willing to look at alternatives like smaller liberal arts colleges or non-flagship mid-size schools to make their long-term success the best accolade of all. 
  • Look for the gap, then find your fit. Diversify your applications and consider smaller, less competitive colleges where applications are down and test scores are optional to leverage the pandemic-related changes in your favor.
  • Don’t let low-income be a barrier. It troubles many schools and agencies that applications from first generation and low-income students are down. Look for university’s whose recruitment goals align with your specific situation and family dynamic. 

 There are still a lot of schools out there accepting applications. 

COVID-19 has changed a lot about college admissions this year, and the effects will probably last into the next few years. But here’s what hasn’t changed: the college prep and application process can be daunting, but with thoughtful guidance, it doesn’t need to be. There’s no such thing as “the right” school, just the right school for you. 

Book a free call with me today and let’s get your student started now on the road to their right fit so they can maximize their opportunities and reach their full potential!

Coming up next on the blog, I’ll share what your student can do to make their application shine – with or without test scores. Stay up-to-date with emerging college application trends and tips for navigating the process by subscribing to my free Coffee with Kim webinar series.