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  • Writer's pictureJulie Simon

5 College Admissions Trends from the Class of 2023

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“The seniors at my high school were slaughtered in this year’s admissions cycle,” a junior dramatically declared recently. He then asked how my students fared and if I was shocked by the decisions. I responded that my students did very well–there were highs and lows–but overall, the outcomes were strong, and the results weren’t terribly surprising to me.

Part of this is because I encourage all my students to have a well-balanced list of 2-3 Reach, 3-4 Target, and 2-3 Likely colleges. With this tactic, my students generally have many good offers they are pleased with. Our team of consultants also stays informed of what’s happening in the college admissions landscape through campus visits, meeting with admissions officers, and reading industry journals and articles. This bird’s eye view makes trends more visible, allowing us to guide our students toward colleges that are a good fit for them and where they can have successful applications.

Here are five of the most important college admissions trends evident from this year’s admissions cycle.

1. Colleges are retaining test-optional policies

  • For the 22-23 application cycle, more than 1800 colleges were test-optional. Despite a few outliers (MIT, Purdue, Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, all Florida publics), many universities will remain test-optional for Fall 2024.

2. Total applications increased again

  • According to Inside Higher Ed, the total application volume submitted through the Common App through March 1 increased by 30% from 2019-20 to 2022-23. Applicants also applied to more colleges, from 5.3 to 5.7 applications per student. Public universities are seeing the largest growth in applications.

3. Selective publics are getting more selective for non-residents

  • As shared in my recent blog post, Six College Admissions Myths We Wish Would Die, applications to popular public universities continue to rise with declining admission rates for non-residents. While we don’t have specific data for 2023 yet, here are the results from 2022.

  • Georgia Tech admitted 35% of in-state applicants and only 13% of non-residents

  • UNC-Chapel Hill admitted 43.1% of in-state applicants and only 8.2% of non-residents

  • The University of Michigan admitted 40% of in-state applicants and only 17% of non-residents

  • The University of Virginia admitted 28% of in-state applicants and only 12.5% of non-residents

4. Colleges offering Early Decision plans (ED) continue to admit more ED applicants

  • Here is a sampling of admit rates for the 22-23 application cycle:

  • Boston College - 15% overall and 30% ED

  • Colorado College - 20% overall and 54% ED

  • Emory - 10% overall and 37% ED

  • Rice University - 8 % overall and 18% ED

  • University of Virginia - 16% overall and 25% ED

  • Vanderbilt - 5.6% overall and 15.7% ED

5. Admission offers from the waitlist remain consistent

  • Based on a sample of 101 colleges, admission from the waitlist for the incoming class of 2021 and 2022 remained steady at 19%.

We hope this information will help you be more thoughtful about your college list and reflect on what’s most important for you to find in a college. Keeping your list small (7-10), and applying to a well-balanced list of colleges, will allow you to put your time and energy into the colleges where you are most invested. You’ll be able to attend information sessions (virtual or in-person), follow social media accounts, read emails you’re sent, interview, and write compelling and detailed essays specific to each school. All of these can impact college decisions but can only be done well if you have the time and energy to apply.

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