The Everchanging Admission Landscape

After reading an article written by the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech on admission decisions, our team felt inspired to share our own insights. The author of the article expresses his experience with disappointed, confused, and frustrated parents in the coming days and weeks of decision announcements. Why was my child not chosen? In short, the author emphasizes that a student should determine their vision for college and their values for an education and review the mission statement of every school they are applying to. Then, compare their personal “mission statement” with that of each institution, to determine if there is a true fit. Do the two missions make a match?

Following the end of each admissions cycle, we are tasked at explaining how the college landscape is constantly changing. We seek information from college admissions offices to learn how every school is adjusting for the new needs of their institution and student body, and we do our best to relay this information. 

  • Are test scores required? 
  • Is having an interview important?
  • Did they lose funding for their business department?
  • Are they building a new Freshman dorm?
  • Is there a new college president?
  • Do they value religion and service?
  • Did they re-prioritize financial assistance for in-state students?

The questions and possibilities are endless as to why a student was accepted to one school and not another. This is when we reflect on not simply enrollment rates, but what is XYZ University’s overall mission and vision for advancing their community? 

Let’s look at a couple examples, shall we?

Clemson University – notably a large, mainly Southern school, with a technical focus and a lot of school spirit. Not much has changed here. Except one factor – in the past 10 years, their football team has had a better record, increasing in the school’s popularity and interest. With a strong sports program, comes slightly more funding, and more opportunities for students who may not have considered Clemson. However, as applications increase, the acceptance rate will decrease. A school that once had close to a 51% acceptance rate, now has a 47% acceptance rate. As more students seek out Clemson, many who may not have a STEM focus, the school must re-evaluate who to accept. This is one example, and the landscape will continue to change for Clemson and similar schools. 

Now take COVID as a factor – more students are now interested in campuses where they can spend more time outside. This increases the applications to schools in warmer climates and schools that provide a lot of year-round outdoor activities, such as the University of Colorado – Boulder. For the past 5+ admissions seasons, the acceptance rate has been close to, at times slightly over, 80%. Today, the projected acceptance rate is now closer to 70%. This number can, and will, consistently change as our values and needs in a school change. 

If we look at warm weather schools, such as the Florida state schools, they are continuing to require test scores. As applications rise for Florida schools, the need for increased academic standards will rise too. Keeping test scores a requirement, allows admissions offices to narrow down the pot of overflowing interest.

 This is why we can never for sure answer the question: Why was I not accepted? And why the list of reach, target, and likely schools will change for students year to year. 

Circling back to the original article we read and the author’s intended lesson for all prospective families: individuals and institutions change, grow, and evolve. We can’t control how the admissions landscape will adjust, but we can take a closer look at our own values and missions. Ask yourself: Do my current values align with the current mission statements of the schools I am applying to? Do my hopes for my college education match with the plans of each college I am applying to? With an open-mind and our guidance, you will end up where you were always meant to be! 

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