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This Week in Admissions News | Week 23

24 JUN 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. US universities are divided on COVID-19 vaccine requirements for returning students and faculty

In the weeks following the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in the US, hundreds of US colleges and universities announced vaccine requirements for all students and faculty planning to head back to campus for the upcoming fall semester. However, with many in the US “weary of the coronavirus and divided over masks and vaccines,” uptake has slowed and some universities have expressed hesitation to make the vaccine mandatory for fear of seeming “ham-handed and dictatorial.” Those unis are banking on “a campaign for personal choice and responsibility” will be more effective in maximizing inoculation among students.

Crimson’s Take: While we are thrilled to know that so many US universities are requiring students and staff to be vaccinated in order to maintain a safe campus, we do understand that the vaccine has sparked controversy across the country and know that the solution isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. By and large, US colleges are still strongly encouraging students and employees to get vaccinated even if they aren’t requiring them to do so — and that effort doesn’t go unnoticed. Our fingers are crossed for a successful return to in-person living and learning for all students in the US this fall!

2. More than 1,500 US universities have announced test-optional policies for the upcoming application cycle

Despite COVID-19 restrictions lifting in some parts of the world, many countries are still implementing strict limitations to ensure the pandemic is kept at bay. As such, the list of US universities that will extend their test-optional policies into at least the 2021-22 application cycle continues to grow and has now surpassed 1,500 4-year colleges! However, many of the most prestigious institutions in the US have noted they do not plan to go test-optional beyond the upcoming admissions round and the number of college applicants sitting the SAT continues to rise.

Crimson’s Take: For many US universities, going test-optional is a gesture meant to reduce the pressure on applicants who think their test scores will eliminate them from the competition before admissions officers even see the rest of their applications — and we can appreciate that gesture! Nonetheless, we still encourage students to sit the SAT or ACT as we know these scores can make the difference between getting accepted or rejected. This is why we’re dedicated to helping students around the world improve their scores to meet the standards of their dream universities.

3. A year-long lawsuit asking Harvard to issue partial tuition refunds to students for a year of online learning has been dismissed

Last June, three Harvard students filed a class action lawsuit against the university seeking a partial tuition refund for students after all classes moved online due to COVID-19 restrictions. The students claimed Harvard wrongfully charged students for the full cost of tuition despite suspending in-person learning because the online alternative was “in no way equivalent to the in-person education” students expected. This week, the case was rejected by a federal judge on the grounds that the students’ expectations were unreasonable given the unexpected circumstances around the pandemic. 

Crimson’s Take: We know students everywhere were disappointed in their university experience amid COVID-19 shutdowns — no one wants to miss out on a year of living and learning at a beautiful college campus! Many higher education institutions faced similar lawsuits in the last year from students asking for refunds, and the outcome has often been the same: courts rule in favor of the universities with the understanding that the pandemic put them in a difficult position of keeping students safe while trying to provide the same top-notch education those students are promised. Luckily for everyone, a post-pandemic college experience is on the horizon for students in the US!

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