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2023 Trends in College Admissions

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Here are some noteworthy trends that are emerging in the college admissions landscape in 2023:

Standardized testing making a comeback

The start of the pandemic saw many schools adopting test optional policies While standardized testing is still in flux, some colleges such as MIT and Purdue have recently reinstated the requirement of test scores for freshman and transfer applicants, in their admissions criteria and merit aid awards. For a complete list of colleges that are test optional visit

Increase in number of applications per student

The Common app data shows increase in number of students applying to over ten colleges from 8% in 2014 to 17% in 2022. This has resulted in application inflation and increase in selectivity of some institutions with drop in admit rates.

Increase in ED and EA applications 

Increasing number of colleges heavily rely on early admission rounds to fill their class and manage yield. Although ED rounds are binding the admit rates in these rounds tend to be higher than the regular rounds. Selective institutions continue to see an increase in ED and EA applications, which resulted in single digit acceptance rates for some. Emory and University of Georgia showed highest rates of 43% and 44% respectively. MIT, Georgetown and Princeton on the other hand maintained low digit and single digit rates of 7%, 12% and 14%. Brown experienced a drop in ED admit rate of 18%, while Yale’s restrictive early action rate fell to 14%. with a nearly two percent plunge. 

Impact of AI based apps like ChatGPT on college admissions essays

AI writing detection tools are emerging and might be used by colleges to monitor if students have used AI apps like ChatGPT  to write their college essays.  Rick Clark, Admissions officer at Georgia Tech, foresees colleges in a couple of years moving away from the conventional essay and perhaps using proctored writing, timed submissions and previously written work instead.

Increasing diversity continues to be priority

Colleges are establishing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies with goals to increase diversity of their student body in terms of race, disability, gender, ethnicity and income. This also includes increasing the number of first generation students and students from underrepresented minorities such as Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander on their campuses.   

Law Schools move away from US News rankings

Yale, Harvard, Berkeley and Georgetown law schools have decided to not participate in the law school US News rankings. They claim that the rankings penalize schools for helping students get into public interest and do not count school funded public interest jobs. It will be interesting to see if this trend of schools moving away from USNWR will also continue at schools at the undergraduate level. 

International applications rebound, up 63% from previous year.

 Due to travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the 2020-21 admissions cycle saw international enrollment fall as much as 43%. The current 2021-22 admissions cycle rebounded with a 63% increase of international applicants from prior year. 

Common app expanding its direct admissions program

Common App is planning on expanding its direct admissions program which allows students to receive offers of admissions without formally applying. Fourteen colleges are currently participating in the pilot program. While this program is in the early stages it could change the college admissions landscape allowing opportunities for college education to more students.  

Building a balanced college list, demonstrating interest and applying early if the student is competitive in the earlier rounds are becoming increasingly important factors to consider for the student to have best outcomes in the college admissions.

Need more help with college planning? As always, feel free to reach out to me via e-mail [email protected] or call me 650-596-9583 to set up a FREE 45 min initial consultation via my contact form. I am here to support you and your family through the college admissions process.