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This Week in Admissions News | Week 18

MAY 20, 2021

The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students planning to apply to universities, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. We’ve rounded up the latest news and given our take on what it means for future and current college students. Check back each week to see what’s new!

1. All University of California schools have agreed to implement a test-blind admissions policy through spring 2025

In order to settle a lawsuit brought against the UC system in 2019 by a group of low-income students of color and students with disabilities, the University of California — which includes UC Berkeley, UCLA and 8 other schools — has agreed to eliminate the consideration of SAT and ACT scores (even if students submit them) from the admissions process for students applying for entry between fall 2021 and spring 2025. The students argued that their limited access to test prep services or the travel sometimes required to sit the test at an official testing center put them at a marked disadvantage against other more advantaged students in the applicant pool.

Crimson’s Take: There have been many questions raised about the longevity of standardized testing in the college admissions process over the past year, but we still don’t foresee such policies becoming permanent for most elite universities as we know many see test data as “too useful to abandon”. However, the UC system’s agreement to go test-blind for the next few years reinforces our knowledge that in order to succeed, students must demonstrate their scholastic ability beyond test scores alone (usually by way of AP and IB coursework), and their essays and extracurriculars must truly stand out to get them recognized in the holistic review process US universities use.

2. New data shows Cambridge University admitted a record number of underrepresented students in 2020

Following suit with Oxford’s admissions stats announced last week, data released by Cambridge this week indicates that the university accepted more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students in 2020 than ever before. Similarly, Cambridge admitted a record number of students from state schools (at 70.6%) and the proportion of British admits from economically disadvantaged areas rose nearly 2%, to 21.6% in 2020. Notably, due to a tumultuous admissions season last year, the university extended offers to more students overall — with 3,997 students admitted over 3,528 in 2019.

Crimson’s Take: Given our mission to level the higher education playing field for students from all backgrounds, we always love to hear that the diversity efforts at elite institutions are paying off! Many of the world’s most prestigious universities have a reputation for accepting a disproportionate number of students from privileged backgrounds, and we hope data like this will help quell that misconception. We’re glad to know that both Oxford and Cambridge are making efforts to provide underrepresented students with the same opportunities their more privileged counterparts have, as we believe every qualified student should have a fair shot at a top-notch education.

3. Harvard asks US Supreme Court to reject a case claiming the university illegally discriminates against Asian American applicants

In March, an anti-Affirmative Action group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) asked the US Supreme Court to hear a case against Harvard’s admissions practices, claiming the university “engages in racial balancing” and asking the Court to “accept this case and finally end the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions.” This week, Harvard filed an opposition denying the allegation and arguing that SFFA is “trying to undermine long-standing precedent allowing schools to promote on-campus diversity by considering the racial makeup of their student bodies.”

Crimson’s Take: We understand that the purpose of Affirmative Action is to establish fair access to educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds, and especially those who face obstacles due to their race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Naturally, we stand behind the practices Harvard has put in place to ensure equal representation on their campus as we believe education should be accessible to all, regardless of race or ethnicity. Moreover, we can appreciate that Harvard’s admissions process aims to nurture applicants from marginalized groups who may not otherwise get an equal chance at admission.

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