College applications continue to rebound

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A new report suggests college applications continue to rebound for the current admissions cycle (2021-22) compared to the past two years. The latest data comes from a January 21, 2022 report from the Common Application and covers applications to four-year institutions that had been received up to January 17, 2022.

This is the third update on applications received by Common App members this year. Previous updates summarized app trends through mid-December and mid-November.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic has so strongly affected college applications in the 2020-2021 season, the Common Application report included comparisons not only with last year, but also with the more typical admissions cycle of 2019-2020.

Demographics of Applicants and Students

According to the latest report, through January 17, 2022, 1,106,777 distinct applicants had applied to 853 colleges that use the Common Application, an increase of 13.2% from 2019-20 (977,914). To this same date, the volume of requests (which counts multiple requests made by most students) increased by 19.8% from 2019-2020 (5,058,853) to 2021-2022 (6,061,556).

More good news can be found in increased application activity among three groups – underrepresented minority students, first-generation college students, and fee-waiver applicants.

  • Candidates from underrepresented minorities increased by 16% compared to 2019-2020;
  • First-generation applicants increased by 20%, twice the rate of continuing-generation applicants over the same period;
  • The number of applicants receiving a fee waiver increased by 12% compared to 2019-2020.

Still, about 57% of domestic applicants lived in the top 20% of ZIP codes in the country, and applicants in the bottom quintile made up only 6% of the applicant pool. These figures are consistent with the Common Application figures from the previous year.

Applications have increased in all regions of the country except the Northeast.

International requests

The number of international applicants (109,294) increased by 31% from the 2019-2020 total of 83,000 applicants, triple the rate of increase for domestic applicants. China, India, Canada, Pakistan and Nigeria were the top countries of origin for international applicants.

Test optional apps

This year, the percentage of common application establishments that required standardized test scores fell to 5% after hitting an all-time high of 11% in 2020-21.

The share of applicants reporting test scores to Common App was 77% in 2019-20. That rate dipped to 44% in 2020-21, but has picked up a bit to 49% this season. The recent recovery may be attributable to increased access to testing sites compared to the early months of the pandemic, but it could also reflect a shift in strategy by candidates as they learn more about the benefits and the disadvantages of submitting test results.

There are big differences in reporting test scores associated with student demographics. Underrepresented minority students, first-generation students, and fee-waiver recipients are significantly less likely — by differences of 14, 19, and 17 percentage points respectively — to report test scores with their applications than students not belonging to these groups.

Types of establishments

While nearly 60% of applications received so far were from private institutions, applications to Common App public colleges and universities increased 24% from 2019-2020, well above the 17% increase reported for private schools.

The level of admissions selectivity was also associated with differential growth in the volume of applications. “Highly selective” members (admission rates below 50%) saw a 25% increase in applications since 2019-2020; “more selective” institutions (50-74% admission rates) saw an 11% increase, and “less selective” institutions (greater than 75% admission rates) increased by 16%. A similar trend was seen in the previous two years, when Highly Selective Institutions were the only subset of private colleges that did not experience a decline in applications between 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Consequences

Three waves of data from the Common App, covering the months of November to January, have now found increased numbers of students applying to university. Although the final numbers are not yet known, this trend is encouraging and suggests that the decade-long decline in college enrollment could be somewhat mitigated next year by the possibility of an increase in student numbers. incoming.

It remains to be seen what will happen with community college applications. The two-year sector has suffered the heaviest enrollment losses in the two years of the pandemic, and overall undergraduate enrollment next fall will be significantly influenced by whether community colleges will benefit from one turnarounds in nominations that their four-year-old peers seem to be experiencing. .

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