It’s good to be back in your inbox. My last blog post was in August 2021 when I finished writing a series of “Rules for Applying to College.” (Many of you who have been recently added to the list may not even know that I have a blog.) 

Why did I take time off? 

My work schedule has been so jam-packed with students and families needing help with the college application process that this blog has taken a backseat. But now, I am excited to keep you updated on my observations and advice about the developments in the world of college admission regularly.

The Year in Review

Each May 1, when high school seniors who have applied to college should have made the final decision about where they will attend this fall, I (like many other college counselors) like to reflect on the previous admission cycle to figure out how to help the next group of students even more. 

So, if you’ll allow me a reflection on the 2021-22 admission cycle, here is my year in review.

There’s Only One Word to Describe This Year’s Admission Results: “Translucent” 

The quality of translucence lies halfway between opaque and transparent. And on the one hand, some aspects of this year’s admission cycle were transparent. Many colleges made admission decisions that were predictable and expected. 

Yet more than ever before, a smaller number of colleges (most, if not all, of the most popular colleges that get the lion’s share of attention from applicants) made admission decisions that were so totally opaque that even I—having seen many cycles in the past—am hard-pressed to explain them. 

I have tried to do so, talking to colleges and reviewing applications and essays. Yet, for the first time in over two decades, I am stuck with not being able to see into the opaque reasoning that drove admission decisions at these schools.

To be clear, what was most opaque this year played out for students who applied to selective and even moderately selective universities. 

Application numbers soared at many well-known universities. And as a result of test-optional policies and perhaps a small bump in new applications from students who chose not to apply during the pandemic, these colleges and universities had to make hard admission decisions. In many cases, these decisions did not seem to make sense… at least for those that were denied. And, in some cases, even for those who were admitted.

The good news is that most colleges in the United States are still quite transparent in their decision-making. With a healthy balance of extracurricular activities and authentic, honest essays, good students had plenty of excellent opportunities to be admitted to hundreds and hundreds of fine institutions. Once again, these colleges were predictable and transparent in making their admission decisions.

My Takeaway

In reflection, the wide gap between the opaque and transparent ends of the admission spectrum stood out to me the most.

I honestly can’t predict what will happen for the next cycle in the future. Test optional policies are in flux, and the number of applications may increase or decrease. But, if I was to make a small prediction for next year, I believe that admission decisions will continue to become less transparent and more opaque.  

If you’re looking for guidance and support to find your way during the college application process, please contact me. I’m an experienced Independent Educational Consultant, ready to help you and your students explore options.