Updated: Apr 16, 2021
High school seniors know that admission into college can have one of several results, including the waitlist. According to a 2019 survey from the National Association for College Admission, 43% of four-year colleges utilized a waitlist in 2018. The number of students who were accepted off those waitlists varies from school to school. The majority take about 20% of the students off the list, while the highly selective colleges may admit about 7%.
A record number of students applied to college this year with many schools dropping the standardized test requirement. Among them, Harvard received a 42% increase in applications, the University of California Berkeley experienced a 28% increase, and the University of Virginia saw a 15% increase. The pandemic has caused a halt in SAT and ACT testing with tests being canceled and testing centers being closed.
With the high application numbers, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that college admissions waitlists will be much longer this year. The number of Common App applications rose by 11% compared to 2019, but the number of unique applicants only rose by 2.4%. In other words, students are applying to more schools because there are fewer requirements and barriers.
Yield rates for entering classes in fall 2020 dropped pretty significantly because of campus closures and virtual classes. The traditional freshman experience that admitted seniors look forward to just wasn’t possible with COVID-19 cases on the rise. Stanford University’s yield in 2019, for example, was about 82%, but the figure dropped to 68% in 2020, clearly showing the necessity to lengthen waitlists for the entering classes of fall 2021.
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