As 2023 comes to a close, several key trends have emerged in the college admissions landscape, reflecting ongoing changes in higher education and student priorities.

  1. Test-Optional Policies 

Many colleges continue their test-optional policies, a shift initially sparked by the pandemic. This change has led to a more holistic review process, where emphasis is placed on essays, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation.

  1. Increased Application Numbers

The ease of applying without test scores has contributed to a surge in applications at many institutions. This influx has made the admissions process more competitive, especially at top-tier universities.

  1. Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

There’s been a heightened focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in admissions. Colleges are actively seeking to diversify their student bodies, considering various aspects of applicants’ backgrounds and experiences.

  1. Digital Engagement

Virtual tours and online information sessions have become staples, a trend that started during the pandemic. This shift has made college exploration more accessible to a broader range of students.

  1. Mental Health Considerations 

There’s an increasing recognition of the importance of mental health, with colleges looking for ways to support student well-being, both in the admissions process and on campus.

  1. Career-Focused Admissions

More students are considering post-graduation outcomes in their college decisions, leading to a greater emphasis on programs with clear career pathways and ROIs. 

These trends indicate a dynamic and evolving admissions environment, one that is becoming more inclusive, digitally adept and student-focused. 

Looking ahead to 2024, these trends are likely to continue shaping the college admissions landscape.

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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