Is COVID-19 Affecting Admissions Rates?

Below is a comparison of the admissions rates between Fall 2019 and 2020 at a sampling of the most selective universities, ranked from lowest difference to highest:

Brown University7.1%6.9%-0.2%
Princeton University5.8%5.6%-0.2%
Northwestern University8.9%9%+0.1%
Duke University8.8%9.06%+0.26%
Harvard University4.5%4.9%+0.3%
University of Chicago5.9%6.2%+0.3%
Yale University5.9%6.5%+0.3%
University of Pennsylvania7.4%8.1%+0.4%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)6.7%7.25%+0.55%
Columbia University4.8%6.1%+0.8%
Dartmouth College7.9%8.8%+0.9%
Georgetown University14.0%15%+1%
Reed College39.4%41%+3%
Data compiled by Creative Marbles Consultancy, 2020

Brown University and Princeton University both dropped their admit rates slightly in 2020, possibly indicating a confidence in their school’s brand that the COVID-19 health crisis with the subsequent economic and social effects will not affect their admissions yield

Those colleges with less than a half a percentage point admit rate gain, a majority of the colleges in the sample, suggest that administrators at these universities are concerned about Fall 2020 enrollment numbers enough, to increase their admissions year over year.

Lastly, colleges reporting a near 1% or more admit rate increase, are indicative of even more concern that forecasted yield for 2020 may be in jeopardy, thus leading them to increase total admitted students for 2020-21 school year. 

Like every spring, only time will tell how many admitted students choose to enroll. However, with the on-going, successive economic and social consequences of the pandemic health emergency yet to be experienced, “summer melt”, or the number of committed students who do not actually arrive on campus in the fall, may be greater than usual, so no matter the number of admitted students this spring, college enrollments may still decline causing knock-off effects to the universities that may reverberate for years to come. 

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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