The Changing and Ever-Shrinking College Acceptance Rates

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The 2022-2023 college application cycle resulted in many disappointed students due to shrinking college acceptance rates. However, the small number of acceptances is not something unique to this year. In recent years there has been a drastic drop in college acceptances across the nation.

College admissions offices have become more selective in the type of student they want to accept. Selectivity is typically associated with the prestigious Ivy League schools. According to US News, the top most selective school in the United States for the Fall of 2020 included Harvard University at 5%, and Stanford University at 5%. The top selective school in California was California Institute of Technology at 7%. In fact, Yale News just recently highlighted the sharp decrease in acceptances for Fall 2022. Out of 50,015 applicants, only 2,234 students were accepted. The Yale News quoted the Admission Board on the application decisions that were made“…in the end it is all about the individual students and their fit with Yale.”

These low rates of acceptances are daunting to students who aspire to attend a prestigious university. Within the UC system in California, UCLA and UC Berkeley are amongst the hardest public schools to get into with an acceptance rate of about 17%. In fact, UC Berkeley had to cap their number of acceptances for the Fall 2022 class after a court ruling due to the ever growing homeless rate in the community (Watanabee, 2022). Berkeley made the decision to prioritize California residents for in-person enrollments. In order to avoid cutting a large number of admitted students, UC Berkeley has decided to offer about 1,500 students, “…the option of remote instruction for Fall and deferred enrollment for Spring semester” (Watanabee, 2022). Negotiations have been put in place between the Save Berkely’s Neighborhood group, and the university to agree to increase the availability of housing in the community before increasing enrollment.

In Berkeley the housing crisis is but one reason for the shrinking college acceptance rate. Gaining admission to a top ranked college has become more difficult than it was for past generations. However, this does not mean that students should quit applying. Instead, students should feel motivated to work harder to stand out as competitive applicants to prove they deserve a spot at the school they want to attend. Students should be intentional in the extracurriculars they get involved in by keeping in mind what they want to achieve. For example, if interested in a career in the medical field, volunteering at their local hospital, or joining relevant clubs would be applicable to their future endeavors. They should also keep in mind the skills they want to develop within these activities that will benefit them in their future.

On the other hand, universities should consider how inaccessible admission has become for students applying to their schools. There is only so much a student can do to stand out as a competitive applicant. With the increased desire to attend four-year universities, schools can begin to provide more opportunities for interested applicants to connect with admission’s officers and current students. This will allow applicants to not only gain more information about the campus, but also to get a better idea of the kind of applicant the school accepts to the university.

What is the Reason for the Decline?

The primary reason for the decline in acceptance rates is because there has been a large increase in the number of applicants. The acceptance rate of a school is calculated by dividing the number of admitted students by the total number of applicants. So, if there is an increase in the number of applicants the college acceptance rate slowly begins to shrink.

Two reasons that were brought forth as the cause of the decline in college acceptance rates for Fall 2022 is due to the removal of standardized testing as an admission requirement, and because of the pandemic most students took a gap year last year and are now applying. With the test optional policy and double the students applying, there has been an increase in applicants, but still only the same limited number of spots available.

Along with this recent development there is also the increase in support across high schools to apply to college. More students are being taught the value of a college degree which inspires them to apply as seniors. A college degree is becoming necessary to attain a career that offers a liveable wage. College is no longer becoming a consideration, it is becoming a necessity.

Looking to the future it is likely that there will continue to be a decrease in acceptance rates. More students are acknowledging and taking advantage of the opportunity to attain a college degree. To end it off, it is important for students applying to college to remember, it is not where you go that matters, it is what you make of the experience that does.
By Viviana Cabrera


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