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This Week in Admissions News | Week 2

JAN 27, 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. Application numbers at top US universities surge amid COVID-driven changes in the way students apply to college

Harvard, Brown, Princeton and other top schools have reported record-high application numbers for the Class of 2025, a trend that US media are attributing to seismic changes in the application process during the current admissions cycle. Beyond the decision made by many highly selective universities to make standardized tests optional for applicants to the Class of 2025, it has also been noted that in the absence of “traditional campus visits, which help students decide where to apply,” many students were drawn to big-name schools based on their reputations.

Crimson’s Take: Gaining admission to the Ivy League and other leading universities in the US was already notoriously difficult, and even more so this year — which is why we are, and always have been, so incredibly proud of all our students who have beat the odds to receive those coveted acceptance letters. While some may find the deluge of applicants to top schools intimidating, we find them invigorating as our students continue to prove why they deserve a place on the campuses of the best schools in the world.

2. Oxford and Cambridge are extending fewer admissions offers this year, weary of the effects of another year of grade inflation

Following last year’s policy change enabling students to be admitted to UK universities based on A-Level grades predicted by teachers, Oxford and Cambridge are reportedly “making fewer offers this year in an attempt to avoid the ‘chaos’ of 2020.” UK unis typically extend more offers than their actual capacity with the expectation that some students will not make the predicted A-Level grades they applied with. However, with last year’s grade leniency carrying into the next application cycle, institutions like Oxbridge who are “in the habit of over-offering by a significant margin” will likely be more stringent “to reduce the risk of ending up with too many kids and too few bedrooms.”

Crimson’s Take: The current admissions cycle was unprecedentedly competitive, as we’ve seen through the application numbers released by top universities — but that didn’t stop our students from pouring themselves into their applications and receiving hundreds of offers in the early round alone! We hope our students won’t be discouraged by reports of an even higher degree of selectivity in the upcoming admissions cycle; rather, we want to remind them that with a dedicated team behind them, their Oxbridge dreams are still within reach.

3. Spring sports at the Ivies face continued uncertainty about the upcoming season — but some are taking matters into their own hands

Although a decision has not yet been made by the Ivy League, intercollegiate athletic competition is widely expected to be cancelled this spring. However, the Ivies aren’t waiting for the green light on competition to begin preparing for whatever semblance of spring sports they can get. At Dartmouth, athletics officials anticipate a “phased practice approach” allowing outdoor practices, team training and potentially scrimmages; UPenn plans to begin formal practices on February 1 despite uncertainty about eventual competition; and at Brown, the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are petitioning the Ivy League to grant spring athletes the opportunity to compete.

Crimson’s Take: We know the suspension of college sports has been frustrating for student athletes everywhere, but we also understand that between vaccine uncertainties and new COVID-19 strains, the Ivy League must do what is best for the health of their students. Nonetheless, we hope individual schools’ efforts to provide safe practice arrangements will at least help fulfill student athletes’ desire to train with their teammates and play the sports they’re so passionate about.

4. US President Joe Biden has laid out a plan to reopen schools at all levels, including colleges

On President Biden’s first full day in office, he called for the collection of national data on school closures to commence to help inform a widespread reopening plan which includes $130 billion in “dedicated funding” to schools and another $35 billion to colleges. Research published this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports the reopening of schools “as soon as possible” with strict safety precautions in place.

Crimson’s Take: Remote learning has been challenging for students and schools alike, especially since many traditional schools are not well equipped to executive virtual lessons — so we’re glad to know that getting students back to school is a priority for the new administration. On the university front, many of Crimson’s own students have missed out on the on-campus college experience thus far, and we know they’re eagerly waiting for their universities to welcome students back!

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