Staggering competitiveness rising amongst students to get into highly-selective universities

As seniors narrow down the university they will be attending for the next four years, current juniors are preparing themselves to endure the tedious college admission process. The 2021-2022 admission cycle has proven just how competitive it is to get into selective schools and it will continue to increase for the 2022-2023 cycle.

With the pandemic leading to colleges going test-optional, many students took this opportunity and applied to schools they otherwise would not have applied to due to not meeting the SAT/ACT requirement. “43 percent of students had submitted SAT or ACT scores,” states CommonApp, a platform allowing students to apply to a maximum of 20 colleges. “That’s down from 77 percent in 2019-20 — a dramatic change in the year of the coronavirus pandemic.” Eliminating the test requirement has only made admissions officers focus on other aspects of a student’s application including course rigor, community service, extracurricular-curricular activities and much more.

The increase in applications led to many colleges decreasing their overall college acceptance rate over the years. The decision for admission officers only worsens when many of the students have a perfect GPA and tons of extracurricular activities. 

Some schools went from a double-digit acceptance rate to a single-digit rate, making admission officers question which applicant to accept. Some of the schools with a decrease in acceptance rates include Northwestern University, MIT, Barnard College, Rice University and schools a part of the ivy league. 

“This might sound like good news, but the growing volume of applications hurts colleges and students alike,” says Arizona State University professor Jeffrey Selingo. “Flooded with applications and crunched for time, admissions officers quickly scan the files of most students who have no prayer of getting in and spend just minutes reviewing those they ultimately accept—something I witnessed the year I spent embedded in three admissions offices.”

While this information can be alarming for the class of 2023 and beyond, it should not discourage students from applying to their dream school. According to data done by professor Selingo, the average U.S. four-year university accepts 60 percent of its applicants. Hence, there are schools out there where students can apply and still be accepted and continue to achieve their goal of attending college. Even if a student’s decisions do not go as planned, celebrating the other schools they were accepted to is still worth celebrating.

As for current juniors who are in search of guidance in the admissions process, look no further! Parkdale’s very own college readiness program coordinator Ms. Sharee Williams has shared her own input and tips!

I would recommend that students still take the SAT or ACT test just in case,” said Ms. Williams. “They do not have to submit their scores right away, they can wait to submit their scores when they are ready. Come see me or a trusted adult who is familiar with the college application process to make sure that you have completed/submitted everything you needed to complete/submit.”

Feel free to contact Ms. Williams via email: [email protected] with any questions about post-secondary plans or dual enrollment!