Takeaways From the 2020 Application Season, Part 1

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The 2020 application season is winding down. The December SAT scores came out today and several schools released EA and ED letters in the past 48 hours. So it is a busy time in the application cycle. If you have a senior, they are probably starting their December break as I write this and I bet you have felt lots of energy around the college admissions process during the past month as answers start to arrive in the early round. I wanted to share a few thoughts as the 2020 application season wraps up, in no particular order. I started this a few days ago and so many other thoughts have come to mind, that I am going to do this in two parts, so stay tuned!

Life After Varsity Blues-One of the questions that stood out was how things might be different after the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal that has sent parents to jail for committing fraud in their efforts to have their children admitted to selective universities. So has anything changed? From my humble perch, I do not see anything different; the only thing that has likely changed is that coaches that are going to have more accountability to ensure that their athletic recruits are legitimate. 

The New ED: Early Denial- The early round continues to be challenging. This year I have seen more outright denials in the Early Decision round. This is a painful sting for applicants, but in the long run, I think it is for the best. In the past, there have been schools with binding, early decision that deferred students to the regular decision round and then put them on the waitlist. School counselors and IECs have lamented this scenario and implored colleges to make a decision and that seems to be happening. This is a harsh reality for applicants but it allows them to cut their ties with the school and move on to colleges that are excited to have them on their campuses. 

Stock Market Parallels- Those boring pamphlets that the SEC makes brokerage houses send their clients that say “Past performance is not a guarantee of future earnings” or something to that effect, rings true here. Schools that have zigged, in the past, zagged this year and others that zagged, decided to zig this year. What do I mean by this? Schools that used to accept an academic profile in the early action round might pivot and decide to send the type of student that they used to admit to the regular pool. Other schools that used to give out significant amounts of merit aid in the early round decide to hold off on the scholarships until the spring. We try to make the best plan with the information that we have, but sometimes when decisions come out, we learn that schools have pivoted and changed how they decide to build their class. 

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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