The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Staff Spotlight
Sai Karne
Sai Karne
Staff Reporter

Sai Karne is a sophomore at Sage Creek and is a new Staff Reporter on The Sage. In his free time, he loves going to the gym and playing basketball.

College admission rates have fallen this year, but why?

A High school student writing a college application essay during college application season. Photo taken and created by Rubin Adbi.
The Scribe (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)
A High school student writing a college application essay during college application season. Photo taken and created by Rubin Adbi.

Every year, college admission rates continue to drop to an all-time low, especially in highly selective schools. 

Last year, New York University’s (NYU) and Tulane’s admission rates dropped below 10 percent. From the University of Boston to the University of Miami, admission rates declined below 20 percent. In 2020, Harvard’s admission rate was standing at 4.9 percent, but this year it dropped to 1.5 to 3.4 percent. 

The reason behind the progressive fall in college acceptance rates contains three specific factors. 

According to Sage Creek student support instructor Alicia Frumenti, “I think they are lowering it because they can’t afford to have that many students in their college.”

For starters, the optional testing policy led many college applicants to submit applications without SAT and ACT test scores, increasing the number of applicants. In 2020, Northeastern’s acceptance rate stood at 20.48%. However, after Northeastern became test-optional during the 2021-2022 school year, its acceptance rate dropped to 6.7% in 2022. 

A high school student mastering college, admission, scholarship, and application essays. Photo taken and created by Bruce Matsuguna. (ASU (CC BY 4.0))

Most colleges don’t adjust their admissions by increasing classroom size but by limiting their size and capacity, which decreases enrollment and increases waitlisting. 

“I think there are a lot more students applying. I know that some of the standardized tests are no longer required for UCs, such as the SAT and ACT,” said Aida Salah, Sage Creek’s avid teacher. “This might be encouraging more students to apply, there might be too many students applying and not enough spots available.” 

The SAT and the ACT are useful tools towards strengthening a student’s application. However, standardized tests can generate intense anxiety, which can severely impact results, results that many colleges still consider essential in evaluating whether to admit an applicant. Also, the SAT and ACT exams aren’t the only indicators that provide college admissions committees information about how well a student will do in college. 

“Others recognize that SAT or ACT scores and application fees can create barriers for some students and do not require these tests for admission, or they have application fee waivers,” said Edwina Williams, Sage Creek’s guidance technician. “Students must start the research process early on as they consider prospective colleges and universities.”

Another major factor in the decline in admission rates is the selectivity of competitive schools. Selective colleges generally abide by university yield rates. In other words, colleges refer to the percentage of accepted students who choose to enroll there. 

If students apply to numerous schools to increase their chances of acceptance, institutions are mindful that they can only attend one,” Williams said. “As the number of applications increases, colleges and universities find it more difficult to review them, affecting the acceptance process.” Williams added, “Therefore, the institution will take particular measures to identify which students they believe are genuinely interested in attending their school.”

Colleges don’t like accepting students who are uncertain about attending. By driving up their yield rate, colleges can drive down their overall admission rate. For instance, if colleges sense that they might be an applicant’s safety school, then they might turn away that applicant’s application even if it’s appealing. 

“Some of the schools don’t have the capacity to hold that many students,” Salah mentioned.

Colleges take serious interest in the yield rate. If applicants don’t keep in touch or follow up with their colleges after applying, those colleges will likely reject them for not showing any interest. 

Finally, when universities need to maximize their yield rates, they employ waitlists more than they did the previous year. In order to reduce the numerous applicants, selective colleges and Ivy League schools waitlist more and more qualified applicants. If applicants get into a college that they prefer over their waitlisted college, then that school won’t consider admitting them. 

However, if the applicants decide to stay at their waitlisted college, admissions officers will re-evaluate them before making a final decision. Today, Ivy League schools and other selective schools are active on their waiting lists. This can be frustrating for students who are uncertain about choosing their dream schools before college decision dates. 

The prevalence of unpredictability, uncertainty, yield rates and college applications is the backbone of plummeting admission rates. 

A student attending a counseling service session. (Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0))

If applicants want to seek out a solution to low admission rates, the best they can do is make smart choices when applying. Applicants can apply to all their selective and safety colleges through Early Decision. During the application process, applicants can concentrate on presenting themselves to the admissions officers effectively while adding additional credits to their applications. 

“My advice would be to check in with your school counselor and start studying now to prepare for college,” Frumenti advised.

If applicants need assistance while applying to their selective schools, they can always discuss their plans with Sage Creek’s guidance counselors or visit Sage Creek’s College planning and tutoring department for more materials. 

“I think that it can be stressful and that a student needs to plan ahead,” Salah said.“When it comes to the college process in your senior year, you really need more time to begin your essays while managing your classes.”

“If you are applying to a UC or a private school, you should begin recording all of your high school extracurriculars,” Salah notes. “You should really look at those essay prompts early so you know what to do when talking about your past leadership and passion projects.”

If applicants consider applying to colleges with low admission rates, they will need to carefully examine and choose schools that they will likely attend. It’s important for high school students to know how the college application process works and changes over time. 

“Start researching colleges and universities early on in your high school career and explore your “why”,” Williams said. “Discovering your “why” is essential when considering your postsecondary education.” 

At Sage Creek, students have the opportunity to guide themselves through junior and senior year with the assistance of SCHS and CUSD students, faculty, teachers, counselors and advisers. 

“The beauty in building community and having networks is that you meet people who want to see you reach your goals and will support you to the best of their ability,” Williams stated. “As a first-generation college student, I thrived because I built bridges in my community.”

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  • D

    DSep 20, 2023 at 9:57 pm

    Great informative article