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07 OCT 2021
1. As US college application deadlines approach, many wonder if the 2021-22 cycle will be another record breaker
Last year’s university application cycle saw record-high application numbers (and as a result, record-low acceptance rates) at many top US universities. MIT reported a 66% increase in applications, Harvard saw a 43% increase, NYU and UC Berkeley both surpassed 100,000 applications — just to name a few. Now, with the first US application deadlines right around the corner, the higher education community is questioning whether we’re in for another unprecedented year. Last year’s increases were largely chalked up to COVID-19 circumstances like test-optional policies and a lack of in-person campus visits encouraging students to apply to many more schools than they normally would; but some wonder whether changes in the state of the pandemic and miniscule acceptance rates for the Class of 2025 at the most prestigious universities will make students more selective in the unis they apply to.
Crimson’s Take: It makes sense that last year, tons of US colleges saw their application numbers skyrocket. With test-optional policies, many students felt more confident in applying to their reach schools; and with in-person campus tours cancelled across the country, students didn’t get their usual opportunity to narrow down their list of prospective unis based on how they liked the campus, classrooms, dorms, etc. On the flip side, it would make sense if schools received fewer applications in this cycle as many have made in-person visits available again; but we don’t foresee the difference being very discernible. Overall, we anticipate another ultra-competitive application cycle in 2021-22, which is why we’re working so hard to help our students submit their strongest possible applications!
2. Several large US universities report a leap in endowment returns, bringing their wealth utilization into the spotlight
As colleges in the US begin to file their annual financial reports, many are revealing record-high endowment growth in fiscal 2021. UPenn reported a 38% increase from last year, Duke reported a 50% increase, and Washington University in St. Louis reported a whopping 65% increase! Endowments, which consist of money or other financial assets donated to academic institutions, fund things like academic research, updated and equipped learning facilities, and financial aid to further a university’s long-term mission. This year, with sky-high increases in the endowments at many large US universities, several are “facing increased pressure to spend more on financial aid and salaries” in order to “hold down the growth of the cost of college” — which some have already stated they will plan to do.
Crimson’s Take: It’s no secret that some of the best universities in the US are funded by enormous endowments that enable them to provide state-of-the-art technology and facilities for their students, alongside fully-equipped classrooms and libraries, renowned and highly sought-after professors and, of course, generous financial support for students. We’re glad on behalf of these schools to learn that their endowments have seen such growth over the last financial year, and we’re even happier to learn that so many of them have already committed a sizable portion of that increase to greater financial aid! As a company founded on the belief that a world-class education should be accessible to every qualified student regardless of their circumstances, we’re encouraged by this dedication to democratizing higher education.
3. A new initiative will help 28 HBCUs in the US “scale experiential learning and leadership development within the college experience”
Strada, a nonprofit organization in higher education today announced a new partnership with 28 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that reflects “a year-long collaboration designed to listen, learn from, and support the work of HBCUs in developing the next generation of leaders.” Supported by a $25 million grant, the initiative “will focus on leadership development and provide students with scholarships and financial support” and “will help students build their professional networks” during their time at university. In a statement, the NGO said “Black colleges have a profound, positive influence in communities, for alumni, and students who, in turn, have the potential to make a positive difference in our society. We hope to expand this work with an even broader cohort of institutions in years to come.”
Crimson’s Take: At Crimson, our mission is to level the higher education playing field for students all over the world — so we love to hear about initiatives like this, which make opportunities in higher education more accessible to underrepresented groups. Further, we recognize the immense value in supporting students beyond the classroom to develop professional skills and networks that will set them up for success after graduation; so we think this initiative will make a substantial positive impact in the HBCU community and look forward to hearing about what comes of it.