A Letter From the Editors

On the elementary school playground, we were told to “play fair.” Whether it was four square or dodgeball, we were all expected to follow the rules of the game, in order to create a fun and equal lunchtime activity. But, what if the rules of the game are fundamentally broken?

According to The Atlantic, the number of applications submitted to colleges over the past twenty years has increased by more than 150 percent. And every year, the number of applications breaks the record for the previous year, plummeting acceptance rates and leaving students and admissions officers alike stressed and overwhelmed.  It’s undeniable: the college application process is in desperate need of reform.  

First and foremost, the Test-Optional policy must be ended. At the start of the pandemic, SAT and ACT tests, once a staple of the college admissions process, suddenly became inaccessible for the majority of American high school students. In response to this unprecedented change in inaccessibility, a majority of universities in the United States switched from a mandatory testing policy toward “test-optional” and even “test-blind” formats. 

This change led to a surge in applicants seeking admission to high-ranking schools as the daunting task of a high percentile score was removed, driving down admission rates and presumably excluding many high-scoring individuals from using what, in normal years, was an advantage over their peers.  

However, since then, the pandemic has receded significantly, opening up a plethora of testing opportunities which beckons the chance for admissions testing requirements to return to the status quo.  

Second, restricted Early Action should be abolished. Early action and decision present college hopefuls with the opportunity to figure out their options ahead of the majority of other seniors. Early action allows for candidates to apply to a variety of schools while decision focuses an applicant’s attention to a top choice that they are bound to after acceptance. 

What disrupts this, however, is restricted early action (REA) in which applicants are only allowed to apply to one school early (almost always their top choice) while simultaneously being allowed to apply to more schools for regular decision. 

Applicants have been known to get into their top choice through REA and later applying to schools they wouldn’t even want to go to anymore considering their initial acceptance just to “flex” on other applicants knocking well-qualified students to the waitlist and normally waitlisted applicants to the pile of rejections.

Lastly, colleges should use supplemental essays as a means to narrow the applicant pool. We see it time and time again: colleges with less than two supplemental essays will receive tenfold the number of applicants, forcing admissions officers to deal with a sudden, massive surge in applications. In this case, the vast majority of applicants are either rejected or waitlisted, putting acceptance rates for normal “target” or “safety” schools in the >10% range. 

Instead, colleges should have more supplemental essays and create meaningful, school-specific prompts that will encourage applicants who actually want to attend the school to apply.