The Dean’s Odds for Acceptance 2020–2021: SLIM TO NONE!

The Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at all U.S. colleges are currently reviewing all Regular Decision applications for the admissions cycle 2020–2021. Good luck to all the desperate applicants!

Based on record numbers of Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) applications at all top colleges, I am confident these same schools will be inundated with tens of thousands of Regular Decision applications for the class of 2025.

The bookies in Vegas have better odds for winning the next horse race, than for getting a student with a 4.0 GPA, perfect SAT scores and exceptional Extra Curricular Activities (EC’s) accepted to a top U.S. College this year.

You guessed it: Qualified and over-qualified students essentially have little to no chance in hell of getting accepted to a top college this year. There just are not enough freshman seats.

The overwhelming demand of applications to top colleges this year can best be exemplified at Duke University.

The word on the ‘street’ is that Duke University received over 49,500 total applications for this current application cycle. That number is truly mind blowing. Keep in mind that 5,036 applications were received for early decision, which means that approximately 44,500 students applied regular decision to Duke for the class of 2025.

I have been following Duke since 2014, the year my older son was accepted to their class of 2018. In 2014, Duke received over 32,500 total applications. 2,640 early decision applications and 29,300 regular decision applications were received that year. It was considered astonishing at that time, that the admit rate for regular decision was 9% for the class of 2018. Now fast-forward to February 2021.

As reported in the Ivy Coach Blog date January 14, 2021, “According to Duke University’s always forthright Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag, as stated in a letter he released to colleagues, “We expected more applications than last year, considering our increases in Early Decision and Quest Bridge candidates, but the increase in our Regular Decision applicants significantly exceeded our predictions. Given the number of applications and the number of students returning from a gap year, we anticipate admitting between 4.5 and 5 percent of our Regular Decision applicants. It’s a humbling and sobering task to identify essentially one in twenty applicants for an offer of admission, and we know we’re going to disappoint many exceptionally qualified candidates, but my staff and I remain committed to giving each applicant full consideration.”

The potential Regular Decision admit rate of 4.5% — 5% for the Duke class of 2025 renders me absolutely speechless. Keep in mind I rarely am ever speechless.

Duke always attracts an exceptional caliber of qualified and compelling applicants each year. Based on the above numbers, it will be next to impossible to receive an invitation from Dean Guttentag to attend Duke.

As a parent and college advisor, it is very disappointing when ‘exceptionally qualified candidates’ are rejected not on the basis of ability, but lack of freshman seats. It is sad and frustrating to the student, parent, advisor and yes, the Dean of Admissions.

My crystal ball is telling me this will be the same story at every top college in this country this admissions cycle.

As a matter of fact, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on January 31, 2021, “The University of Pennsylvania received 55,992, a 34% increase from the year before. Haverford College saw a 16% rise, one of its highest increases in the last 15 years. Princeton’s applications rose 15%, Swarthmore’s 12% and Villanova’s 10%. Harvard received more than 57,000 applications, a 42% increase”.

This extraordinary increase in applications to top colleges is predominantly due to most colleges ‘going standardized test optional’ this year due to COVID-19.

In a non-COVID year, High school seniors who had a perfect GPA, strong EC’s, yet low standardized scores, would have been advised NOT to apply to a top college. The applicant would be rejected in the first round of review due to a low score. Sad but true.

However, in this COVID year, these students said, ‘the hell with the taking the SAT or ACT’, and decided to submit their applications without the test scores. These smart kids took a chance and rolled the dice in an attempt to get accepted to their dream school. What a great opportunity! Absolutely no downside, only an upside for this student.

The competition to receive a golden acceptance ticket to a top college will be fierce this year based on the sheer magnitude of applicants. It really is a numbers game this year.

May the best Woman/Man get accepted!

For additional insight on the college admissions process, please check out my book on Amazon!

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