What You Need To Know: College – 2021 Trends & Predictions for 2022

Allow us also to share with you insights into the ever-shifting college admissions landscape. Internally, our families have embraced our WISE Method of Educational Planning, delivered by our innovative, custom-built, interactive Owl’s Nest platform. Optimizing our developmental approach to the college process, The WISE Method of college planning was aptly described by one parent as “liberating our kids to choose their own pathway from a more mature perspective.”

The introduction of our WISE Method certainly contributed to a significant increase in our overall college planning numbers – our 15 counselors are currently guiding 213 seniors hailing from over 25 states and 15 countries, who have applied to 200 colleges and who should end up, like last year, at dozens of best fit colleges across the country, as well as in the UK and Canada. To continue our personalized, step-by-step guidance of each student, we will soon announce the addition of new counselors to our team who share our background as lifelong educators. (We were delighted when 128 candidates from top independent schools nation-wide applied for these positions!) Stay tuned!

Despite a demographic dip in the overall teenage population and a continued increase in tuition, selective colleges were flooded with an unprecedented number of applications, including a whopping 22% jump in total Common Applications, due to these two key factors:

  1. The rise in Test Optional admissions led thousands more students to apply to “Reach” colleges. A great example of this trend unfolded nearby at MIT, where 14,781 candidates applied Early Action, and only 697 of them were offered admission (4.7%).
  2. The change in the White House a year ago resulted in a 40% jump in international applicants, according to the Common Application, including a few dozen of our own students, who came mainly from Western Europe, the Middle East, Canada, the UK, and Central and South America.

We also witnessed:

  • More November Early Decision Applications than ever.
  • An Increase in Transfer Students as freshmen and sophomores had trouble finding the right fit without actually visiting campuses before committing and COVID continued to negatively impact students’ on-campus experiences
  • COVID-exacerbated Anxiety, Depression, and Mental Health Issues led more young adults to take a Post-Graduate or gap year, or pursue programming designed to address mental health challenges and college readiness skills guided by our team specializing in Academic and Developmental Crisis.

Looking ahead, here’s our College Admissions Advice for 2022 for simplifying and streamlining the process, with the goal of matching each teenager to the right college fit:

  1. Cast a Wide Net. Since objective criteria like standardized testing and COVID-disrupted transcripts are less reliable, colleges are putting even more emphasis into subjective measures like essays, extracurricular leadership, teacher recommendations, and demonstrated interest. That means it’s harder to predict decisions. So if you are looking to go to a small liberal arts college in Maine, apply to all three – Bates, Bowdoin and Colby.
  2. Start the process early since many selective colleges fill over half their class through Early Decision.
  3. Essays matter … a lot! Carve out time over the summer to work through multiple drafts of your personal statement, as well as the supplements – many of our applicants had to write over 20. During this recent round of Early admissions, our students with strong essays had good acceptances. This is our favorite part of our job – devoting many hours over the summer gently coaching our students to express themselves authentically and personably. We are all also active writers ourselves!
  4. Tap into the improved online programming that colleges have offered since COVID hit, such as virtual information sessions and tours, especially since so many colleges are using analytics to track a student’s demonstrated interest.
  5. Leaning on legacy won’t carry the same weight as more colleges eliminate preferences for children of alums.
  6. Don’t dismiss standardized testing, especially if you are a good tester, since the rest of your application will need to be extra strong. Take practice SAT and ACT tests, then get advice about which of the three routes best serves you in the context of your overall application: SAT, ACT, or Test Optional. Meanwhile, younger siblings will be taking a shorter, online SAT in a couple years.

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