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This Week in Admissions News | Week 7

04 MAR 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. Anti-Affirmative Action group asks Supreme Court to ban the consideration of race in US college admissions

Following the US Department of Education’s dismissal of an investigation against multiple Ivy League universities for alleged discrimination against Asian-American applicants, initiated by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), the group has asked the Supreme Court to hear a case against Harvard’s admissions practices. SFFA claimed Harvard “engages in racial balancing and ignores race-neutral alternatives” for promoting diversity on campus, adding that they hope the Supreme Court “will accept this case and finally end the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions.” 

Crimson’s Take: We understand that the purpose of Affirmative Action is to establish fair access to educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds, and especially those who face obstacles due to their race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Given our mission to level the elite higher education playing field for students all over the world, we naturally stand behind the practices Harvard has put in place to ensure equal representation on their campus. We believe that Harvard’s Affirmative Action policies do not aim to suppress Asian Americans, but rather, to nurture applicants from marginalized groups who may not otherwise get an equal chance at admission.

2. ACT CEO addresses the implications of COVID-19 and test-optional policies on the future of standardized tests in college admissions

Based on market research gathered from the higher education sphere in the US about how ACT test data is utilized in the admissions process, ACT CEO Janet Godwin postulated in a blog post last week that universities that have gone test-optional for the upcoming application cycle are unlikely to return to test-required status “in the near term.” However, test-blind policies remain unlikely as “schools regard test data as too useful to abandon it altogether” and despite the 20-30% decrease in students submitting test scores, universities still report “significant use of testing data in almost every aspect of the enrollment process.”

Crimson’s Take: There has been much speculation about the longevity of standardized testing in the college admissions process as so many institutions have waived the test requirement in their applications for yet another year. However, the data shared by ACT indicates that even if test-optional policies are here to stay, students will still be encouraged to submit test scores and if they do, those scores will still weigh heavily on admissions officers’ decisions. This means stand-out test scores could still be the difference between getting accepted or not; and further, it means perfecting the other parts of the application will be even more important in the future.

3. Harvard Director of Athletics expresses confidence in the resumption of Ivy League athletics for the fall 2021 season

In an interview last week, Harvard athletic director Erin McDermott said she is “very hopeful” that Ivy League sports will restart in the fall, adding that competitions within the Ivy League conference are “pretty assured.” She outlined three possible scenarios depending on the severity of COVID-19 circumstances come fall: varsity teams may participate in conference-only competition, expanded Ivy League and regional competition, or full competition including long-distance, non-conference play. McDermott believes the second scenario to be most likely.

Crimson’s Take: We’ve always maintained an optimistic attitude about COVID-19 limitations in the upcoming school year as they pertain to dorm occupancy, athletics and all things related to campus life. Of course, while we understand the reasoning behind the difficult decision the Ivy League made to cancel spring sports for 2021, we do hope those restrictions can be safely lifted by the time the fall semester begins. We know so many students and student-athletes around the world are yearning to return to some semblance of normalcy as the clock ticks away on their college experience — and we look forward to that in the near future!

4. Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases on Dartmouth and Brown campuses prompt tighter restrictions in hopes of staving off potential outbreaks

Following a sudden increase in coronavirus cases at Dartmouth College and Brown University, campus policies have temporarily reverted to prevent a greater spread. At Dartmouth, communal indoor spaces like the fitness center and library have been temporarily closed while dining halls have shifted to takeout-only. At Brown, sanctions will be applied if a student is found in violation of the university’s COVID-19 policy “in terms of access to campus and/or immediate suspension and removal from campus.”

Crimson’s Take: If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the last year in regards to COVID-19, it’s that swift action is an utter necessity for getting ahead of the virus’s spread. We’re glad to hear that Dartmouth and Brown officials are acting quickly and strictly to ensure the safety of students, staff and faculty and believe their continued diligence will help increase the likelihood of a return to a post-pandemic college experience in the near future. We know many students around the world are eagerly awaiting it!

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