On-going cancellations of the SAT and ACT administrations has interrupted the traditional college admissions recruitment cycle, which may eventually affect demand for college.
Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech, writes:
The mass cancellations and ensuing test-optional landslide has severely limited a big part of how colleges solicit applications through what we call “search.”…However, this traditional source of names and leads did generate thousands of applications nationally in the past, and nothing to this point has proven to directly replace it.The Future of College Admission?, October 23, 2020
So juniors may not receive as many glossy brochures and emails from colleges encouraging them to apply after taking the SAT or ACT for the first time possibly reducing the number of applications eventually submitted.
As college admissions officers redefine how they solicit applicants, what will be the effects on the demand for college? In the short term, Rick suggests maybe more applications will be submitted not less:
Going test score optional (TSO) [as two-thirds of all US universities did] normally serves to increase applications.The Future of College Admission?, October 23, 2020
However, Rick also tempers his optimism for a robust applicant pool in the next sentence:
But we’ve never seen this many schools go TSO at the same time. My guess is some will see a bump due to this change in policy, but the majority will not.The Future of College Admission?, October 23, 2020
Since Rick made his forecasts back in October 2020, he’s been proven right-ish for the most part, as some university systems, like the University of California and the Ivy League have posted applicant increases, yet other smaller, more regional universities have posted decreasing numbers of applicants.
No matter the applicant numbers, however, given the current fiscal deficits of many US universities and decline in undergraduate enrollment, admit rates for Fall 2021 may remain stable or even increase, as university officials seek to enroll more tuition-paying students to recover fiscally.
Although in the current Fall 2021 admissions cycle, fewer effects of a disrupted recruitment cycle may be realized for both universities as well as students, will a more robust, maybe even innovative, recruitment strategies be needed to sustain demand for college education in the years ahead?
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