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2020 College Admissions Trends and Insights from the Experts

2020 College Admissions Trends and Insights from the Experts

It’s important for college-bound students to stay up-to-date on the latest college admissions trends, and the spring semester is an excellent opportunity to reflect on recent updates and keep an eye towards the future.

In the year since the college admissions scandal, there has been a lot of speculation about how colleges would respond and how any changes would affect future college applicants. While most changes have only impacted athletic recruiting and how those applications are evaluated, the emerging trends in 2020 signal that colleges are looking for ways to make the process a little more transparent.

Throughout the college admissions process, doing your due diligence is essential. The more students know about the process, the better prepared they will be to make decisions that align with their needs and goals. The IvyWise team of expert counselors has compiled a list of the top admissions trends that students should have on their radar throughout 2020 and beyond.

Social Media Monitoring Is on the Rise
It’s more important than ever before for students to be mindful of their social media profiles, as studies show college admissions officers are watching. According to a survey from Kaplan Test Prep, 36% of college admissions officers report checking applicant’s social media profiles during their review process, up from 25% the prior year. Of the admissions officers who report using social media, nearly 20% say they do so often, a major increase from the 11% who said they frequently review profiles in a 2015 survey.

Instead of panicking, students should view potential social media reviews as an opportunity to let their interests and passions shine. The same study found that more admissions officers believed that social media reviews had a positive impact on prospective students, as opposed to something that could hold them back. Students looking to up their social media game should focus on content that relates to causes and pursuits they care about and avoid any posts that they wouldn’t want a parent or teacher to see.

Test-Optional Continues to Gain Traction
In 2018 the University of Chicago announced a move to a test optional admissions policy and in the months that followed, an array of colleges would follow suit. In January 2020 Cal Tech announced it is eliminating the requirement for SAT Subject Tests. More recent additions to the test-optional list include Bucknell University, Creighton University, Evergreen State College, and the University of San Francisco. According to FairTest.org, the pace of test optional announcements climbed to one in every 10 days in 2019 and shows no signs of slowing down. Students who struggle with standardized testing may wish to consider test-optional choices and familiarize themselves with the specific application requirements associated with these institutions.

Colleges Scaling Back Legacy Admissions Policies
Many college admissions practices have been under heavy scrutiny since the recent college admissions scandal, including legacy admissions. In January 2020 it was revealed that Johns Hopkins University had been steadily phasing out the use of legacy preference in admissions – a big win for critics of the practice. While it’s unlikely that we’ll see a large scale drop in legacy admissions, it is very likely that some schools where legacy preference is already a dwindling practice will better clarify their processes and even slowly phase it out similar to JHU’s approach. There are already a number of elite institutions, like MIT and CalTech, that do not consider legacy status when making admissions decisions, and it is likely more will join in the years to come.

International Diversity Skyrockets
In prior years, the majority of international students often hailed from the same handful of countries. In 2020 and beyond, this may no longer be the case. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, college recruiters are broadening their horizons and traveling to Africa, where the potential for higher education growth is immense. As much as 60% of the continent’s 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25, yet only 10% of the college-age population are enrolled in college in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria already ranks among the top ten for countries with globally mobile students, although Britain is currently the number one choice for college applicants from the nation. In the future, American universities may try to lure more students from a broader pool of countries, in turn increasing the geographic diversity on college campuses. Given the importance of students with varying perspectives and backgrounds, this influx of diversity could add tremendous value to college campuses across the US.

Value Is the Name of the Game
ROI is still a very important guiding metric when it comes to choosing where to apply to college. Previously, many students prioritized university rankings and sought out name-brand schools, however, as college costs continue to be top of mind for many families, an increasing number of applicants are weighing college-related costs more heavily. As a result of this move towards value, increasing numbers of applicants will be drawn to institutions with sizable financial aid offerings, developed work-study programs, and opportunities to graduate in three years as opposed to four. Other applicants may focus in on state schools, which are generally the more affordable option for students who live in the region.

It’s important to understand the college admissions landscape when prepare for your admissions journey. Information is key and when students are aware of the current college admissions climate, they are in turn more knowledgeable about their application options and strategy tips.

At IvyWise, our team of admissions counselors, tutors, and specialists always have their finger on the pulse of college admissions and know what it takes to gain admission to students’ top-choice schools. With the emergence of test-optional and flexible polices, social media monitoring, and questions about long-standing practices like legacy admissions, the college application process can seem even more opaque. The IvyWise team can help you navigate this process with the insight of someone who worked in the room where it all happened.  For more information on our college counseling programs and how our team can help you gain admission to your top choice colleges, contact us today.

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