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This Week in Admissions News | Week 5

FEB 18, 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. Less than half of students that submitted the Common Application for the Class of 2025 included standardized test scores

After a large number of US universities announced last spring that they would be going test-optional for the 2020-21 admissions year due to ongoing limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, submissions of SAT and ACT results took a nosedive. In the current cycle, only 44% of students who applied to colleges through the Common App (which is used by more than 900 schools in the US) included standardized test scores — down from 77% in the previous application season.

Crimson’s Take: Given that so many schools opted to let students submit applications without test scores this year, it’s not surprising that so many decided not to — especially with students around the world facing a variety of COVID-related challenges to sit the exams. We’ve already seen a trend among US universities extending their test-optional policies into the upcoming application cycle as well, so we expect next year’s data will follow suit. De-emphasizing the importance of test scores naturally means that admissions officers will likely pay closer attention to other parts of the application such as the extracurriculars and essays, and we look forward to helping our students ace them!

2. Ivy League will allow current senior student-athletes to play an additional season as graduate students next year

In an effort to soften the blow of its decision to cancel the 2021 spring sports season amid COVID complications, the Ivy League announced that current seniors who were admitted into graduate programs at the Ivies will be given the opportunity to compete as fifth-year student-athletes in the 2022 season. The decision is reportedly “a one-time, pandemic-related exception that breaks with a long-standing Ivy League precedent limiting athletic participation to undergraduate students.” However, the timing of the announcement means few students will benefit from it as most graduate application deadlines have already passed.

Crimson’s Take: We appreciate the sentiment behind the Ivy League’s decision to grant this historic extension to the many student-athletes whose college sports experience was unfairly cut short due to circumstances out of their control. We have witnessed how treacherous it can be to navigate the path between prioritizing students’ safety and affording them the athletic opportunities they were promised. We’re glad some students will be able to make up for their lost season next year and are optimistic about college sports returning to their pre-COVID state come fall!

3. The US Department of Education drops its investigation into racial discrimination at Princeton University

In September last year, the US Department of Education (ED) opened an investigation into Princeton University alleging that its president, Christopher Eisgruber “admitted racism” in an open letter which stated, “Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persis at Princeton” and racist assumptions “remain embedded in structures of the University itself.” The ED posited that Mr. Eisgruber’s statements evidenced Princeton’s noncompliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, an allegation that was widely criticized in the higher education sphere. In his annual State of the University letter, Mr. Eisgruber announced the ED “took no substantial action on its bogus ‘investigation’ except to close it as the Trump administration left office.”

Crimson’s Take: Just a few weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency, we’re already seeing legislative changes positively affecting US higher education. Last week, similar news was reported regarding a lawsuit against Yale alleging racial discrimination — which illustrates a shift away from the seemingly performative and pedantic fault-finding of the Trump administration against US universities. We never doubted that Princeton celebrates diversity in its student body and are relieved on the university’s behalf to see this investigation come to a close.

4. First-ever virtual HSBC Festival will be the largest HBCU college fair in the US

Appropriately aligned with Black History Month in the US, the 19th Annual HBCU Festival, presented virtually by The ASBC Foundation and Google Cloud, will be the largest college fair for Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country with over 70 institutions represented. Last year, the event reportedly saw over $5.4 million in scholarships awarded to the nearly 2,000 attendees; and this year, its website notes many participating universities “will conduct on-site interviews, offer instant admission and waive application fees.”

Crimson’s Take: As a global company that’s committed to helping talented students get accepted to the universities of their dreams, we’re thrilled to hear about any opportunity for college hopefuls to connect directly with admissions officers! Even better that this event supports the rich diversity of the HBCU network in the US, providing a valuable chance for students to learn about so many colleges that have been at the forefront of American history for nearly two centuries.

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