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This Week in Admissions News | Week 36

23 SEP 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. Despite differing approaches, many US universities with COVID-19 vaccine mandates are inching closer to full compliance

When US colleges and universities started announcing vaccine requirements for students returning to campus this fall, many questioned how they would enforce the requirements and how strict they would be. A few weeks into the semester, a majority of the approximately 1,000 institutions that have mandated COVID-19 vaccines are reporting that their already-high compliance rates are continuing to climb as the threat of being disenrolled looms for those who still haven’t been vaccinated. Even where disenrollment is not imminent, additional limitations like surveillance testing and account freezing are incentivizing more students to submit proof of vaccination every day.

Crimson’s Take: As always, we’re thrilled to hear any news that vaccination rates are increasing on college campuses, which last year proved to be hotspots for COVID outbreaks. We know that university officials can sometimes find themselves in a difficult position when enforcing these mandates could mean losing students — but it seems that the large majority of universities don’t have to worry about high rates of noncompliance after all, which is so encouraging! We’re optimistic that the return to pre-pandemic normalcy on college campuses is getting closer and closer every day.

2. Recent survey outlines several ways in which the pandemic affected university admissions in the 2020-21 application cycle

With the COVID-19 pandemic throwing a wrench into nearly every aspect of higher education in the last 18 months, a new survey from Inside Higher Ed found that admissions officers at some universities reported having difficulty filling the incoming class on time, with campus closures hurting their efforts to recruit enough students. As for the demographic of admitted students, more than half of survey respondents said they admitted more minority students due to test-optional policies, which three-quarters of respondents hope will continue indefinitely.

Crimson’s Take: It’s always interesting to read about insider insights from the admissions gatekeepers themselves — even though this survey largely confirmed trends we have already anticipated! While some of the pandemic’s effects on college admissions may subside sooner than others, data like this (especially pertaining to test-optional policies) indicates that some changes made in the COVID-19 era may stick around long after the pandemic has passed. Nonetheless, we see test-optional policies as an even better opportunity for highly qualified students to set themselves apart from the crowd — so perhaps such lasting changes will be beneficial in the future!

3. The 2022 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings are out, with Harvard ranking highest for the fifth consecutive year

Adding to the list of 2022 university rankings that have come out in recent weeks, the Wall Street Journal has released its US rankings in collaboration with Times Higher Education, which released its global rankings early this month. At the top of the WSJ/THE list, for the fifth year in a row, is Harvard, followed by Stanford, MIT, Yale, and Duke — and 19 of last year’s top 20 schools are in this year’s top 20 as well. WSJ emphasizes that its rankings place a lot of importance on student outcomes, with top-ranking schools churning out graduates that are “satisfied with their educational experience and land relatively high-paying jobs that can help them pay down student loans.” 

Crimson’s Take: University rankings offer valuable insights into what makes top schools so competitive, providing helpful information about their academics, student life, tuition fees and more — which ultimately helps prospective students (and their families) understand their own priorities when deciding where to apply. However, while these rankings provide helpful information, they don’t cover all you need to know to find your best-fit university; which is why at Crimson, we prioritize helping our students build their perfect school list based on a variety of important factors. Rankings are a starting point — but they are not everything!

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