13 OCT 2021
1. The number of US universities with test-optional or test-blind policies has reached an all-time high
At nearly 2,000 four-year institutions in the US, test-optional or test-blind policies have been adopted for at least the current application cycle or longer — marking an all-time high, with over 75% of US unis onboard. Of these, a large portion have said they will extend such policies for at least one more admissions cycle. The news of so many colleges doing away with SAT and ACT scores as part of the application process (whether temporarily or for the long term) has fueled an ongoing conversation in the higher education sphere over the role of test scores in the admissions process, with some noting that test-optional policies resulted in larger and more diverse applicant pools in that last admissions cycle, while others point out that test scores provide unique value as one of the only measurable pieces of data in processes like application reviews and university rankings.
Crimson’s Take: The wave of test-optional policies at US universities began several months ago, so we’re not surprised to hear that such a large majority of them have followed suit. However, we still highly encourage students to sit the SAT and ACT and see test-optional policies as an opportunity to really set themselves apart in the admissions office. With fewer applicants submitting test scores, stellar marks can be a key indicator of your academic proficiency — which may make the difference in whether or not your application makes it past the first round of reviews, especially among tens of thousands of others. Additionally, while a number of US institutions have announced these policies will continue beyond the current application cycle (and indefinitely for some), many of the most prestigious unis have expressed that they do not plan to go test-optional permanently.
2. Some student-athletes reap the benefits of the NCAA’s decision to allow them to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness
In July, the US National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a historic new policy that enables student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) for brand promotions. Shortly thereafter, the Ivy League made an adjacent announcement stating that “student-athletes should have the same opportunities as all students, including the option to engage in projects that use their [NIL]”. Now, some star athletes have been “cashing in” via social media brand deals, event appearances, product promotions and more. The NCAA’s NIL policy has challenged universities and athletes to navigate promotional opportunities they aren’t often familiar with, and many are waiting to see how this new dynamic will shake out over the coming months or years.
Crimson’s Take: For many student-athletes at top US universities, their sport requires a high level of commitment that renders them unable to take advantage of other opportunities like internships or part-time jobs. Further, as the Ivy League pointed out several months ago, non-athletes are generally not limited in the business opportunities they can pursue during their time at university in the same way that athletes have historically been. With all this in mind, we supported the NCAA’s decision in allowing student-athletes to use their talents to engage with brands — and we’re glad to see that it’s proving successful for many!
3. Harvard student-led movement to end Legacy admissions gains momentum with support from students at Brown
Education nonprofit EdMobilizer, founded by a recent Harvard graduate to advocate for first-generation, low-income and undocumented students, last month started a nationwide initiative in the US called #LeaveYourLegacy — which has picked up steam at fellow Ivy League member Brown University. The initiative aims to “eliminate legacy preference through a donation boycott,” whereby students and alumni refuse to donate to their universities until they stop considering applicants’ Legacy status in the admissions process. Supporters of the movement argue that ending Legacy admissions would make Brown “a more equitable and accessible place” by providing a more equal opportunity for first-generation and low-income applicants.
Crimson’s Take: This is not the first time we’ve heard about students at US universities opposing Legacy admissions, and we’re sure it won’t be the last. As a company dedicated to breaking down the barriers of geography and legacy for university hopefuls all over the world, we see the merit of this movement — and we always support students advocating for the changes they want to see from their universities. At Crimson, we think every qualified student in the world should have a fair shot at quality higher education, so we’re pleased by actions that aim to level the playing field for students in any way.