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This Week in Admissions News | Week 11

APR 01, 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. Rutgers University will be the first US university to require COVID-19 vaccines for all students enrolled in the fall 2021 semester

In a statement last week, Rutgers University announced that “with limited exceptions, all students planning to attend in the Fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated” against COVID-19. The university cited President Biden’s expectation that all adults in the US could have access to at least one inoculation dose by early summer, therefore making a fully vaccinated student body a reasonable possibility come September. Rutgers is the first US university to publicly announce a vaccine requirement for students to attend classes on its campus.

Crimson’s Take: We’ve seen many universities make impressive strides towards mitigating the threat of COVID-19 on their campuses already in 2021, implementing policies to protect students and staff and to minimize the virus’s spread. Each time we’ve applauded their efforts, and this time is no different! Widespread COVID-19 vaccinations are perhaps the most important step towards achieving a pre-coronavirus state of normalcy, and we hope this announcement from Rutgers will help spark a trend for more universities to promote and encourage vaccines for students returning to campus.

2. Oxford and Cambridge have reduced the number of offers made to applicants for 2021 entry to avoid another admissions “bulge”

Following the cancellation of exams for a second year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Oxford and Cambridge are reportedly “bracing for another year of higher grades” by cutting the proportion of offers made for each available place in the incoming class. After the Office of Students advised UK universities not to accept too many students following an 8% increase in applications this year, noting that they would need to make a conscious effort not to “swamp courses” with too many students, officials at both Oxford and Cambridge have confirmed fewer offers will be extended in the current admissions cycle.

Crimson’s Take: We understand why Oxbridge is making an effort to avoid overextending offers for a second year, but with acceptance rates already so low at both universities, we also know many students will find this news discouraging. However, slightly lower acceptance rates shouldn’t dissuade students from applying — because with the right resources, submitting an application worthy of admission is still well within the realm of reality. At Crimson, we’ve helped over 200 students get accepted to Oxford or Cambridge to date, and we plan to continue doing so regardless of the number of offers they extend!

3. UPenn will be the first Ivy League school to resume spring sports competition, beginning this weekend

UPenn Athletics announced it is moving into the next phase of reopening amid the COVID-19 crisis, which allows for local sporting competitions beginning this Saturday. The university’s baseball, softball, rowing, lacrosse, tennis and track teams will all be competing in abbreviated seasons “against strictly local competition”, meaning the school will not compete against any other members of the Ivy League. Spectators will not be allowed to attend home games, but attendance at away games will be determined by the hosting school.

Crimson’s Take: After hearing and reading so much about how disappointed Ivy League student-athletes have been with the cancellation of spring sports, we’re glad to know that some will be able to play the sport they love this spring despite some restrictions. We support the Ivy League’s decision to cancel athletic competitions for the safety of their student bodies, but are encouraged by the knowledge that COVID-19 circumstances are improving enough to allow for local competition for UPenn athletes. Perhaps similar news will come from other Ivies in the near future!

4. Despite more than half of all US colleges and universities going test-optional for another year, the vast majority of students still plan to submit scores

Limited testing opportunities led to a nearly 70% increase in test-optional schools in the US last year, and already more than half of the country’s universities have extended those policies for another year. Nonetheless, a recent survey found that although 89% of high school juniors and seniors applied to or plan to apply to test-optional schools, 75% of students still did take or plan to take the SAT or ACT and 82% of those students will submit their scores. The stats were attributed to students seeking “a competitive edge at selective and highly selective colleges [as] the competition will be fiercer than ever at those colleges.”

Crimson’s Take: We couldn’t agree more with the notion that submitting SAT or ACT scores, even when optional, can be a key distinguisher between an applicant that gets accepted and one that gets rejected. Of course, we know that the US college application process is quite robust and there are many other valuable components in a student’s application; but test scores often serve as a preliminary ‘cutting factor’ for admissions officers sorting through hundreds of applicants — so we highly encourage students to prepare extensively for their exams to be able to submit scores that help them stand out.

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