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With the pandemic, applications in top schools increase and institutions become even more selective

With the pandemic, applications in top schools increase and institutions become even more selective



With the changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic for application by institutions outside the country, the admission processes, in some cases, have become simpler, which has generated a significant increase in the number of applications. 

The restrictions imposed by the spread of the coronavirus  led several higher education institutions to suspend the requirement for standardized exams such as the SAT and ACT . The scores of these exams are usually part of the process to apply, but the cancellation of sessions of these exams made it impossible to send scores and, consequently, simplified the procedures.

However, in the face of the enrollment boom , universities that already had a very selective profile were even more so. Understand the situation in some colleges and universities abroad in this scenario.

Colleges outside the country: applications are on the rise, minor admissions


In the case of colleges, admission fees are not increasing as enrollment increases. Instead. Colby College in Maine, USA admitted only 8% of the 15,857 students who applied, compared to 10% last year and 13% the year before. Despite having the test-optional policy (where exams are optional) since before the pandemic, the college used to receive students with good test scores - an average of 34 on the ACT and 1520 on the SAT. Now, with all admissions being made remotely - without the option of face-to-face visits - he faces another challenging year, although he has prepared himself. 

Universities abroad were also more selective


If the 8% of American colleges seemed impressive, at MIT the scenario is even more restricted, with only 4% accepted, of the 33,240 enrolled. The number represents a 66% increase in the number of candidates in one year, while the admission rate fell 7%.

The University of Notre Dame admitted 1,771 students in the last week of March and 1,673 in the previous week, in restrictive early action , as the programs in which those who are admitted do not necessarily need to enroll are called. The admission rate fell to a new record (15%) at the institution. At Emory University, the index went from 19% to 13%.

Among the main public universities, there is also more competition to enter. The University of Virginia saw enrollments increase from 41,000 to 48,000 - of which 21% were accepted. At the University of Georgia, 39% of applicants were admitted this year, up from 46% last year.

Impacts of the pandemic on admissions: the example of Emory University


Emory University in Atlanta has posted a story on its website about the changes it needed to make due to Covid-19 - including becoming test-optional . The publication points out some difficulties in the whole process, such as virtual learning, which “changed the nature of how students learn and are tested on their knowledge”, which affects the student's GPA, according to the institution.  

The university also pointed out that academic competitions, sports tournaments, internships, volunteer opportunities and part-time jobs were canceled last year and this year or they may have been offered virtually only, impacting traditional activities that a student can participate in during the undergraduate year. .

Another point raised by Emory was about the letters of recommendation from teachers: “due to the virtual learning environment, many students shared that their teachers did not know them well, not having a face-to-face relationship.”

The opposite side of greater selectivity


If, on the one hand, the image of excellence in top schools is reinforced as they become more selective, on the other, there is a fear that smaller institutions will suffer from the opposite effect: they will receive fewer enrollments.  

This is because, as higher education students choose the most prestigious, in a simpler selection process, less recognized colleges and universities end up having to admit a higher percentage of candidates, which can compromise a brand positioning that is already more challenging. For this reason, directors of some units of the type are already defining strategies to attract a larger contingent in the 2021-22 admissions cycle. You have to wait and see.

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