What Keeps College Admission Officers Up at Night?

Many high school students and their families stress and worry about the college application process. But have you ever thought about what it’s like on the other side? Many college admissions officers are just as worried as you are about whether you’ll apply or take them up on their acceptance offer.

Part of the reason many admissions officers are nervous is because college enrollment is down. In this article from NPR, it’s stated that 1 million fewer students are enrolled in college now than before the COVID-19 pandemic. They reported that US schools “saw a drop of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021, continuing a historic decline that began the previous fall.”

Admissions officers are having tougher times enrolling students. In a survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed, they found that “admissions officers were very worried about filling their classes this year [2021] and most did not fill their classes by the traditional May 1 date for the following fall’s class. Add in the months of May and June, and most admissions offices were still searching for students.”

Inside Higher Ed found one extreme concern among admissions leaders: “59% of respondents said they were ‘very concerned’ about meeting their enrollment goals for the fall, and another 32% were ‘concerned.’”

Of those surveyed, more than 80% said they’re very likely to increase recruitment for minority and transfer students, while about 78% said the same for full-time undergraduates and first-generation college students. On the other hand, only 26% said that they are likely to increase recruitment efforts for part-time undergraduates. Less than 40% of officials say they are likely to increase recruitment efforts for online students.

Many schools also opted into test-optional or test-blind admissions. Of those who did:

  • 47% saw an increase in applications from Black, Latinx and Native American students.
  • 55% said they admitted more Black, Latinx and Native American students.
  • 42% said they saw an increase in the percentage of students who needed aid to enroll.

The COVID-19 pandemic lead to a shift in college admissions. These types of shifts affect admissions offices just like they affect students. But, we are seeing some positive shifts like more diverse enrollment, test-optional admissions, etc. 

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