5 Trends impacting college admissions in 2021

Updated: Jul 9

We know you are tired of hearing this, but we’ll have to say it again- 2020 was a strange year. 2021 is stranger. The pandemic has changed the way we live, learn and grow. The sacred rituals of college admissions that prevailed for generations have also seen an unprecedented tide of change.


But humans are nothing if not adaptable. In fact, most of these trends will only change the world for the better.


Let’s see how the Class of 2025 navigates these changing waters; which trends are temporary and which of them can alter the college admission process forever.


#1 ‘Optional but preferred’ SAT/ACT scores

Keeping the test takers’ safety and social distancing measures in mind, SAT, and ACT had to cancel some test dates in 2020. This unexpected turn of events led prestigious colleges and universities to go test-optional in their admission mandates. While this came as a welcome respite to students from some demographic groups who found it hard to pay for these exams, it is observed that even after declaring these test scores as optional, colleges are more inclined towards accepting students with SAT/ACT scores, which renders these standardized tests as ‘optional but preferred’ adding to the uncertainty of current times.


#2 Increase in early admission program applications

The cascading effect of optional test scores has given rise to another interesting college admission trend. The crème-de-la-crème universities worldwide have seen a double-digit hike in early admission programs. Harvard reports 57% more early applicants than last year, while MIT and Penn claim 62% and 23% respectively. This can also be a result of a pre-pandemic trend that showed that early applicants were more likely to gain acceptance.


#3 Colleges in the U.S. pushing harder to get international admissions

In a pre-election poll conducted by GMAC, it was observed that international students were keen to matriculate in the U.S if Biden became president. The end of Trump’s administration saw a new dawn in the American higher education landscape. The colleges with support from the government have opened several doors to international students that were earlier closed.


#4 More gap year and transfer cases

The year was non-traditional in more ways than one, which led to the students taking a non-traditional academic detour, deferring their college admission, and taking a gap year in favour of other non-academic interests. GenZ has always shown higher commitment towards the society and environment. Future college students will take this opportunity to invest every moment of this pandemic-induced gap year to make a difference in their communities, which brings us to the last but the most significant admission trend of 2021.


# Being real and resilient will open the doors wider for you

Colleges have always valued authenticity, commitment, and single-minded passion. Applicants who demonstrate their investment and seriousness in one core area are more likely to ace the admission process. This is truer in the current covid-induced scenario where students have lesser reasons to get distracted. They can showcase their strengths in the most creative ways possible. Colleges, especially the most prestigious ones are always keen to meet self-driven, committed, passionate, and focused individuals than, for the lack of a better term, “jack-of-all-trades”. This year too, students who succeed in showcasing the ingenuity and a pro-community mindset will be given an open-arms welcome.


Covid-19 has made all of us get a taste of uncertainty. So, these are not our predictions. These are assumptions and beliefs backed by strong insights and years of expertise.


At Writersqi, we work towards taking the ifs, buts, and maybes out of your admission process. Book a consultation with us to meet our team that lives and breathes higher education in order to equip you with the know-how necessary to get you into your dream college.