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This Week in Admissions News | Week 1

JAN 21, 2021

The world of college admissions is always 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. College Board is phasing out the SAT’s optional essay and subject tests

According to an announcement from College Board, in an effort to “reduce and simplify demands on students”, the company is discontinuing SAT Subject Tests and the SAT Essay. They noted expanded reach and availability of AP courses and tests mean the Subject Tests are “no longer necessary for students to show what they know.” Similarly, they added that the existing tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language tests adequately measure the “essential” skills of writing and editing, therefore rendering the SAT Essay superfluous.

Crimson’s Take: Streamlining the SAT in these ways mean two things for students: firstly that they should look at other ways to highlight their specific subject talents such as taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, or extra subjects in the A-Levels curriculum (offered by Crimson’s Online high school Crimson Global Academy), and secondly making sure all other sections of your college application — including the Personal Statement and Activities List — are as perfect as they can be.

2. The University of Cambridge will offer a free Foundation Year to disadvantaged students beginning next year

The University of Cambridge has announced it will begin offering a free one-year course to students “who have the ability to succeed at Cambridge, but have been prevented from reaching their full potential by their circumstances” beginning with 50 students in October 2022. The program aims to reach students who are unlikely to be able to “make a competitive application to undergraduate study at Cambridge” related to issues such as their health, financial restraints or familial circumstances.

Crimson’s Take: How wonderful that one of the most competitive universities in the world is becoming more accessible to talented students who have been met with unfortunate situations outside of their control. Crimson was founded on the belief that a world-leading university education should be available to any qualified student with the dedication to reach their full potential, and we’re proud to have helped a number of students start their journey to Cambridge and other top universities with this vision in mind.

3. Experts at Durham University released a report advises UK universities to substantially reduce admissions requirements

A report comprised of data from more than 20 universities, produced by education experts at Durham University, is calling for universities in the UK to reduce admissions requirements by as much as two grades and consider “socioeconomic and educational contexts” when evaluating students’ application materials. The lead author of the report, Professor Vikki Boliver, was quoted saying, “if you really want to widen participation and correct for previous inequities then universities need to step up and say grades aren’t necessarily an accurate indicator of how smart someone is or whether they will do well.”

Crimson’s Take: We’ve always been proponents of a holistic approach to college admissions — which is why we’re so dedicated to ensuring our students submit robust applications that illustrate their passions and potential far beyond their grades or test scores. Quality education should be a right, not a privilege, and we know that many students have much to offer on college campuses and in the wider world which isn’t always demonstrated by the numbers. We’ll always be advocates of a more level playing field for ambitious students!

4. The Ivy League warns that there must be “significant changes in the state of the pandemic” before spring sports become feasible

In an email update on Thursday, the Ivy League told student athletes and coaches that in order for the spring sports season to proceed, COVID-19 circumstances in the US must dramatically improve. Even if competition does become feasible, the League noted “it will, at best, result in an abbreviated, and likely significantly curtailed, competition schedule.” The Ivy League presidents are expected to make a decision about the sprint sports season sometime next month.

Crimson’s Take: We’re sure that many student athletes are disappointed by this update, though as many Ivy League college newspapers have pointed out — it doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The pandemic has presented a mountain of challenges for college students, athletes and non-athletes alike, but with the roll out of vaccines worldwide, we are sure that improvements are on the horizon.

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