COLLEGE MATCH’S LATEST COLLEGE ADMISSION TRENDS
Challenges and opportunities abound this year for college applicants…here are just a few of the trends that College Match spotted this year:
1. Rise of SAT Subject Tests: among students applying to selective colleges this year there has been increased number taking the SAT Subject Tests; on average students take 2-3 Subject Tests.
2. De-emphasis on college board testing at some top colleges. A small but growing number of top liberal arts colleges have made the SAT 1 optional. While this list increases each year, we found a couple more that were of interest to our clients including, Knox, Lewis and Clark and Mt. Holyoke colleges, among longstanding holdouts, Bowdoin and Bates in Maine.
3. Merit scholarships become standard feature of some liberal arts colleges. High quality, yet slightly less selective colleges such as, Allegheny and Lewis and Clark, routinely offer top students modest scholarships to help offset the cost of attendance (versus other State or less expensive regional, private colleges).
4. Party schools take on a serious tone. Colleges like USC and NYU once known more for their partying ways than “nerdy” academics now boast students with top grades and SAT’s and extracurricular accomplishments. Instead of accepting lower academic achievers with high social ability, these places have become so sought after that the average grades and test scores to gain entrance are now more likely to favor the honor student who’s spent significant time in the library and laboratory.
5. “Information Age” makes applying easier but also more competitive. The rise of Common Application use and Internet research in general has created a huge increase in college application numbers; some colleges, like Occidental, have seen applications increase by as much as 185% over the past nine years (www.oxy.edu). Similarly, the average number of colleges applied to has increased according to the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), to an average of 12 colleges.
6. West Coast colleges bask in the spotlight. The rise of West Coast colleges can now be measured in terms of both the quality and quantity of applicants. West Coast universities and liberal arts colleges now feature more prominently in the admission picture and often overlap increasingly with Ivy League and Little Ivy (Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams) applications. (“West Coast Ivies” include: Caltech, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Occidental, Pomona, Reed, Scripps, Stanford, USC, and Whitman (schools in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (and drawn from US News “Best Colleges”)
7. New, “holistic” approach to admission for top research universities. University of Washington recently announced it would employ 20 more Admission officers to consider an applicant’s essay and extracurricular involvements and special circumstances and talents. This approach has been practiced successfully in the past by mainly private colleges.
8. Extracurricular involvement comprises nearly 50% of the admission decision at selective colleges: once the initial hurdles have been cleared–SAT and GPA–then extracurricular activities matter most including but not limited to, depth of involvement, leadership and national-level competition. Superior extracurricular accomplishment has become one of the main hallmarks of admission to a selective college.
Dave Montesano is director of college planning at College Match US and can be reached at [email protected] or by calling 1-877-658-4400.