Mar 10, 2021 - Health

COVID's elite admissions boom

Harvard students enjoy the summer of 2020 in Cambridge.
Harvard students enjoy the summer of 2020 in Cambridge. Photo: Anik Rahman via Getty Images

COVID-19 is creating a "nail-biter" for admissions officers at elite colleges, while their less prestigious cousins face a plunge in interest.

The big picture: "The wait lists are going to be obnoxious this year," Georgia Tech's Rick Clark told The Wall Street Journal.

  • “I think it will be a nail-biter," said NYU's MJ Knoll-Finn.

By the numbers: High-performing students are taking advantage of relaxed admissions rules to apply to more schools.

  • "Applications submitted via the Common App, which is used by more than 900 schools, rose by 11% nationwide through March 1."
  • "But the number of applicants increased by just 2.4%, meaning nearly the same number of students are casting a wider net."

At the same time, admissions officers face unprecedented uncertainties.

  • International students may be slow to return to U.S. campuses, vaccine or not. Many schools have yet to confirm whether they'll have in-person classes in the fall.

Between the lines: Some elite schools that suspended standardized testing requirements got big bumps in non-white applicants, the N.Y. Times reports.

  • Cal-Berkeley "received 38 percent more applications from Black, Latino and Native American hopefuls than in 2019."
  • NYU "saw 22 percent more applications from both Black and Latino students."

The bottom line: The vast majority of college students don't go to selective schools, and the universities they attend are suffering badly during the pandemic.

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