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College Admission Trends 2024-2025 (Part 2)

I just returned from a College Conference in Connecticut, where colleges like Carnegie Mellon, Tufts University, Boston College, Northeastern University, and Tulane University, amongst others pulled back the curtain on admission trends and how decisions are made at their specific institutions. I also had the opportunity to tour several colleges in the northeast and while I will share my perspectives in another blog, today I’d like to continue our discussion on college admission trends. In case you missed Part 1, you can find it here.


  • New, relevant majors introduced: Colleges are tracking market demands and are introducing majors accordingly. UPENN is the first Ivy League to offer a BSE in Artificial Intelligence, Columbia University is introducing a minor in Climate System Science, and USC Marshall School of Business recently launched a new joint undergraduate degree, AI for business, in partnership with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. This is all great news for our students.

  • The role of legacy in college admissions: Legacy preference, which gives children of alumni a bump up in the admissions evaluation process, has come under the microscope. With the objective of making the admissions process more equitable and fair, several states have banned legacy considerations. Colorado did away with it entirely in 2021 and in February 2024, Virginia banned legacy admissions for its public institutions. Currently, the states of Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts are also battling with this decision for both their public and private universities.

  • Yield protection: Due to the increase in the average number of applications submitted per student, colleges struggle to accurately predict their yield (i.e. how many accepted students will ultimately enroll). Therefore, they are relying more heavily on demonstrated interest to predict student enrollment. Correspondingly, there is an increased reliance and focus on Early Decision (which binds students to an institution, if they are accepted), while deferrals from Early Action are on the rise.

  • International study destinations: With rising US college tuition costs and unpredictability of admissions outcomes, studying abroad in Canada and even in the UK is becoming more attractive to families.

  • Students are becoming increasingly politically savvy. I’ve had more students consider gun laws, abortion rights, and blue vs red states when creating college lists than ever before.


From a presentation I attended in Connecticut, the Dean of Admissions at the University of Rochester, Robert Alexander (a 25-year veteran in higher education and college admissions) described this year as “The most turbulent time in college admissions that he has ever experienced, including working in Tulane through Katrina!” With both colleges and students becoming more discerning about admissions, a strong, well-rounded application becomes even more crucial. It can help students showcase their strengths and how they uniquely fit into the college or university, beyond test scores and grades.

In case you missed this announcement earlier, I’m excited to introduce ‘College Application Workshop: Jumpstart Your Journey’. This is a 4-day in-person college application workshop that I will lead for rising seniors (and motivated juniors). Students will jumpstart their work on the Common Application, Activity List, Additional Information section and have first drafts prepared for 5 essays. You can find more details here.

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