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What we are learning so far from the Class of 2023 application cycle


In March 2020, this Class of 2023 was a freshman class and their schools shut down. They have shown grit and resilience through high school and we are bursting at the seams with pride in their work.


Here is incoming information from the Common Application's report on fall 2022 trends.


  • Overall, the data shows growth in the number of applicants and a rise in the number of applications each student submitted, and very strong growth in international applicants to US universities. Let's unpack what that means. Due to uncertainty and continued test optional applications, student applications are up. Last year's application cycle studentes applied to about 9% more schools overall. We recommend students lean in to a more conservative list of 9-12 schools, trending towards target admission (2/3) vs. realistic reach (1/3).

  • There was a slight drop in in the percent of applicants submitting test scores to universities (down to 48% from 51% compared to last year). While test optional is a legitimate application type, we still see that acceptance rates are higher for students that submit scores. See which test optional schools still lean into applications with SAT/ACT scores.

Balancing the student's application list is a two part process - balancing for admission but also cost of attendance. We lean into and learn from data so families are not caught scratching their heads in April wondering what happened.


  • What is the student's budget?

  • What is the probability for need grants based on reported income and savings - students will learn to run each school's net price calculator before making a campus visit.

  • Does the application list have schools that are likely to bribe strong students to attend with merit scholarships or are the schools only offering need grants? Check out these selective schools that offer at least 30% of students academic merit (buyer beware, the net price may still be a whopper!)


So what does all of this information translate into for this and future application cycles?


Class of 2023 - It may be another bumpy ride. Early and regular decision gaps are widening, flagship state universities such as Michigan State, GA Tech, the UCs and UVA will be even more competitive. Know your next steps if your qualified student is pushed from an early application to regular decision pool.


Class of 2024 - 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. Pay attention to your PSAT score and how that score maps to the 50th percentile of schools on your research list. Understand of the four SAT school day options, which your school is taking and set up a practice schedule. Also, test-optional is a legitimate application type so make sure your high school course rigor and grades are positioned to show that you can handle college level work.


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