College Admissions Today

Photo Via Unsplash

Photo Via Unsplash

Kevin Chiu, Staff Writer

The college admissions process for the 2022 academic year has been extremely hectic. Nearly six million college applications were filed through CommonApp, which is 20% higher than that of the beginning of the pandemic’s 2020 cycle. With over three-quarters of colleges deciding to offer test-optional or test blind policies, high schoolers around the country who were struggling to achieve an acceptable score released a sigh of relief. 

Test blind means that a college will not factor in a student’s standardized test scores even if they submit them. Test optional means students can choose to submit a standardized test score, however, not submitting a test score won’t affect your admission. Senior Edwin Feinberg said, “Not having to take the SAT took away a lot of stress and gave me a lot more time to focus on my hobbies.” Numerous colleges have adopted the test blind policy, including the UC system, in order to continue to encourage high schoolers to pursue their passions, and to benefit lower-income families who can’t afford out-of-school test prep. 

Not having to submit a test score made the UC system an attractive choice for applicants. Senior James Hanson said, “Even with a 4.5 GPA and multiple varsity sports, I was still waitlisted from a lot of UCs.” This year, a record-breaking 210,000 students applied to the UC system’s nine schools –the most applicants in the system’s 154-year history. As a result, admission rates have been at an all-time low with schools like UC Berkeley, dropping from an admission rate of 17% to just over 8%.

Even with a 4.5 GPA and multiple varsity sports, I was still waitlisted from a lot of UCs.

— James Hanson, senior

While a few selected colleges opted to have gone test blind, many others have chosen to take the test-optional route instead. Senior Amir Eslamian shared their opinion saying, “I believe the test-optional policy is good because it gives students more time to pursue their passions instead of studying for the test.” This policy enables the students a chance to excel in areas other than academics. 

The test-optional policy is not only benefiting students, but prestigious colleges as well. With only high-scoring students submitting their standardized test scores, the college’s average test scores increased, which adds to the school’s prestige as students without test scores are not added to the statistics. 

The blind test policy also works as a loophole to allow less qualified legacy and donor applicants to receive admission to college. In the past, if a student who was an heir to a family legacy, did poorly on standardized testing, the college wouldn’t be able to admit them without showing blatant favoritism. However, now that standardized scores aren’t needed, if the student goes to a school that has a highly inflated GPA, the school will use this as a reason to admit them.

Unfortunately, the test-optional policy isn’t without its shortcomings. Just like the UC schools, most top universities are finding a flood of applicants at their doors. This is because many more students feel like shooting their shot with their dream school, now that they don’t have to reveal their test scores. The freshman class size of the top 50 or so universities has nearly remained the same over the past 25 years. Even with an excessive increase of applicants, the class size will remain the same.

With admission rates at an all time low, senior Sabine Knott said, “Sometimes you might have to give up on your dream school, there are better opportunities elsewhere.” While the test-optional and test blind policy has given some students a renewed hope to get into their dream school, numbers show that now, more than ever, it is harder to get into the top universities. To all the juniors and seniors, the college admission process is what you make of it. Test-optional and test-blind policies are now tools you can use to your advantage.