The Ivies have always been difficult to enter, but the pandemic has made admission even more difficult. With many colleges in the United States opting to make SAT or ACT scores optional over the last two years, the number of applications has increased, resulting in record low acceptance rates.
Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale were among the eight Ivy League universities to issue acceptance letters on Thursday evening, with some reporting the lowest admission rates in their histories.
As per student newspaper The Harvard Crimson, Harvard’s acceptance rate fell to 3.19 percent, the lowest since the university’s founding 386 years ago, as a record number of applicants applied for spots in the class of 2026. Yale and Brown also reported record low acceptance rates, while Columbia remained unchanged from last year’s 3.7 percent acceptance rate, which was also a record low at the time. Dartmouth’s rate of 6.24 percent increased slightly from the previous year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, three Ivy League schools chose not to share their acceptance rates in order to minimize their selectivity. But it’s not just these elite colleges that are more difficult to get into than ever before. Many universities in the United States are reporting record low acceptance rates this year after switching to test-optional policies during the pandemic, which allowed a larger pool of applicants to apply.
“Students who normally would self-select out of the admissions pool — they would look at the average SAT score and not apply — those kids are applying,” Michelle McAnaney, president of college counseling company The College Spy, told CBS MoneyWatch.
She added, “These are straight-A students who are taking hard classes and perform well” but who may not score highly on standardized tests. “They are putting their hat in the ring.”
McAnaney said that some independent educational consultants are also seeing a higher share of waitlisted applicants this year, which could indicate that colleges are having a difficult time assessing their “yield,” or the percentage of admitted students who will end up accepting a spot in their freshman class.
“For students, it keeps them hanging,” she said. “The most selective schools are even more selective than they were.”
It’s a problem that goes beyond Ivy League institutions. Rice University (8.56 percent) and Tufts University (8.56 percent) have also reported record-low acceptance rates this year (9 percent ). Many universities, from the University of Virginia to the University of Pittsburgh, reported a record number of applications.
Going back to the SATs
At least one prestigious university is abandoning test-optional policies after experimenting with them during the pandemic, when many students found it difficult to schedule SAT or ACT exams due to cancellations and COVID-related disruptions.
On March 28, MIT announced that it would once again require SAT or ACT scores, citing how the tests help the university determine whether applicants are academically prepared.
In a blog post about the decision, MIT dean of admissions Stu Schmill wrote, “the tests also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT.” “We believe that a test-optional policy is more equitable and transparent than a requirement.”
Other universities, such as Boston University, are expanding their test-optional policies or eliminating tests entirely from their admissions process. Last year, the University of California’s ten schools announced that SAT and ACT scores would no longer be used in admissions. The school announced in February that it had a record number of applicants for the 2022-2023 school year, as well as a significant increase in socioeconomic diversity.
Overall, the admissions process remains difficult for students and their families, but McAnaney noted that the majority of students who apply to colleges in the United States are accepted. – CBS News