From 77% To 44%

33% fewer Common Application submitters included standardized test scores on their applications in 2021 than did in 2020 according to Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed.

Will this number continue to fall in 2022 or will they rebound? My thoughts – they will never rise above 70% again – new test policies implemented by the University of California and California State University systems guarantee this, in my opinion. We are still waiting to hear from systems in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina (among others) about their 2022 test policies but if they join their peers in states like Virginia and Pennsylvania the % of submitters will remain at or below 50%.

Despite the COVID pandemic and test center closures, the University of Florida system continued to require a standardized test result from 2021 applicants and, apparently, came out ok (applications up 3.6% at UF, 0.6% at FSU according to the Orlando Sentinel). There are still some demographic trends that need to be evaluated, however, including whether requiring test scores under the circumstances substantially impacted application rates of students hit hardest financially by the pandemic. However, it is possible that these application totals at UF and FSU may be used to support requiring test scores in some systems. We shall see.

Terrific Article On Financial Aid And The CSS Profile

FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an acronym tossed around liberally and typically with universal understanding when people discuss college financial aid.

The CSS Profile? Less so, and yet families must complete it to receive institutional funds at schools like UNC – Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and approximately 300 other colleges and universities. Eric Hoover of The Chronicle of Higher Education covers the complexities of the CSS Profile well in an article published today titled The Most Onerous Form In College Admissions. Among its conclusions – a thought that more schools may require it once the new and “simplified FAFSA” goes live in 2022.

The Weeds Of Enrollment Management

Those who know me know that I enjoy working with young people. I’ve taught in public high school classrooms and presented to auditoriums full of college applicants. I’ve also announced high school track meets and coached youth soccer. Perhaps most influentially, I’ve loved being a parent to my own two teenagers. Working with young people is kind of my jam.

And yet, there’s another reason why I work as a college admissions counselor. I dig this stuff. The policy stuff. The how do colleges fill their classes and what happens when they enroll too many or too few kind of stuff. College admissions is a fascinating industry, and thus when Jon Boeckenstedt, VP of Enrollment Management at Oregon State, offers his thoughts on the enrollment challenges facing institutions this year, I listen.

Here’s a link to his extensive Twitter thread, unrolled for your reading pleasure (if you’re into this kind of stuff, that is!).

70%+ Test-Optional For Fall 2022 Admissions?

With over 57% of institutions already having implemented test-optional policies for next fall, Bob Schaeffer, Interim Executive Director at FairTest thinks it’s possible. A frequently updated Fall 2022 list can be found here. Still missing at this time – public flagships here in North Carolina as well as those in neighboring South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee (the major public institutions in Virginia are test-optional).

With Yale Now Test-Optional For Fall 2022 Applicants …

Now every single Ivy League institution is not requiring an SAT or ACT result from this year’s junior class when they apply to college next year. Read Yale’s new release here.

Thanks to Bob Schaeffer at for the update!

Waiting on an announcement from our friends in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and elsewhere …

AP Schedule Spring 2021

If your student has plans to take AP examinations this spring, you will want to be on the lookout for announcements from their school/school system on when and how they are going to be administered. The College Board announced today a revised testing schedule that requires, imho, some heavy lifting by schools (especially testing coordinators). Understandable outrage forthcoming …

College Board 2021 AP Scheduling Announcement

UVA Test-Optional Through Fall 2023, Harvard Fall 2022

and . . .

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The dominos are starting to fall. My location bias is going to show but here goes … how about you, UNC and NCSU?

Test-Optional Announcements For Class Of 2022 Beginning To Roll In

Though I am not going to publish a new post every single time a school announces that they have extended their test-optional policy to future admission cycles, the announcements by both the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University could hasten moves by other institutions. Good news!

The announcement by Penn State University (test optional through Fall 2023!) last week is evidence of the fact that state boards CAN get their proverbial acts together and make decisions quickly in the best interest of future applicants. Let’s hope large systems here in North Carolina and neighboring states do as they should and make announcements in the near future.

Academic Scholarships, Great Grades, Your Eighth Grader

There is SO MUCH to digest in this article published in Sunday’s New York Times on how academic merit scholarship aid is awarded at a number of colleges and universities today. The overarching point: If attending a private or out-of-state public institution is a goal for your student yet you will need to keep expenses close to that of full cost of attendance at one of your state public colleges, curriculum and grades matter – a lot.

This notion of “academic merit scholarship” versus “coupon” or “discount” is something I cover in depth with families I work with here in North Carolina. We are fortunate to have a tremendously strong and relatively affordable state college and university system (fwiw – I think this is true for ALL states – look beyond the fancy names and you’ll find tremendous academic opportunities everywhere). Though local students are often wooed with scholarship money by public institutions in neighboring states (or private colleges anywhere), it is important to understand that it still may be more affordable to attend a North Carolina public college despite receiving scholarships that may total $100K+ over four years.

As is true with every aspect of the college admissions process, it is important to consider merit based aid offers thoughtfully.

College Board Ends SAT Subject Tests, SAT Writing Section

What started as a message board rumor last night became reported news this morning – the College Board is ending its subject test programs and removing the writing section from the SAT. You’ll see tweets from many and articles published by the likes of the Washington Post throughout the morning. For a most thorough analysis of this decision and its ramifications, I strongly encourage you to read this breakdown by Adam Ingersoll of Compass Education Group.

The College Board just released its official statement this hour.

Because you may be curious, Compass provided lists last fall of schools that still require or recommend subject tests or the writing section for the 2020-21 application cycle.

My take? Simplifying the college application process is always a good thing.