First and foremost, I am so proud of this Class of 2022. This group of students has persevered, shown grit and tenacity working through challenges, and made leaps and bounds towards adulting. Over $16 million in grants and scholarships (still counting) and acceptances to 204 schools. Well done!
High-quality admissions data is critical to the success of any data-driven college planning process. While we cannot predict the future, we can use historical data to put events in context. At CPC, we've partnered with College Kickstart to stay on top of the latest admissions data to help students and parents navigate the process through information vs. emotion.
Recently, the team at College Kickstart invited us to join a partner roundtable, where they shared their first look at Class of 2026 results and implications for the upcoming application cycle. While the data is preliminary, we wanted to share some of the important insights we took away from the session.
Students continue to apply to more schools - about 9% more overall, with some schools seeing a much larger increase than average. Why is this happening?
Students are hedging their bets.
Test optional expands access.
Some are just swinging for the fences.
Application growth this year is strongest in the category of selective schools that accept 25% to 50% of students. What schools are seeing the most growth? Some examples are the schools listed below.
Villanova University - acceptance rate changed from 31% to 23%
Case Western University - acceptance rate changed from 30% to 25%
Dickinson College - acceptance rate changed from 40% to 35%
Lehigh University - acceptance rate changed from 45% to 36%
Schools continue to rely on Early Decision to fill their class. For example, Boston College's Early Decision applications increased by 36%, and 50% of the accepted students were Early Decision. A one-two punch of more applications and larger ED rosters puts pressure on the Regular Decision acceptance rate. Schools are looking to reduce uncertainty.
Some schools overenrolled the last application cycle—schools such as The University of Tennessee, Northeastern University, and Boston University. Last year's over-enrollment could further affect admissions due to smaller classes for 2026 students. Schools have creatively used Verto Education, NU Bound (Northeastern), and other bridge programs to manage the overflow.
Admission Test Scores - Slightly under 50% of applicants submitted test scores for selective schools. Profiles of test scores have increased by about 20 points for the SAT and .5 points for the ACT. At first look, acceptance rates are higher if a student submits a test score. However, with 50% of students not submitting scores, we see test-optional as a legitimate application type. Data on this topic is still coming in.
So what does all of this information translate into for the next application cycles? Thanks to our partnering with College Kick Start, we can provide the following insights from this new data.
Admission Tests - Taking the SAT or ACT is still your best bet, and you should expect to hit a higher score by 20 points for the SAT or .5 points for the ACT if submitting. Also, test-optional is a legitimate application type.
Selectivity - We think flagship state universities such as Michigan, GA Tech, the UCs, UVA are going to be even more competitive, and students should set expectations accordingly
Application Volume - Increased applications are likely. Therefore, we suggest student application lists of 9 - 12 schools lean more conservative.
Early Decision and Regular Decision gaps are widening - Committing to a school is not for everyone as there is tremendous growth during a student's senior year. However, suppose parents have run and are comfortable with the school's net price calculator results? In that case, a mature student confident in their school options might consider an Early Decision application.