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FAQs About How COVID-19 Has Impacted Ivy League Admissions

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Elias Miller in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


What’s Covered



How Tough Are Ivy League Admissions?


Each cycle, Ivy League applications seem to get more competitive. The 2021 admissions cycle was one of the toughest seasons ever. One reason for this is that every school was test optional. This was partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and partially due to schools making college applications more equal. The cost of standardized test tutoring and exams makes them biased toward students who come from high-income households. For this reason, many schools have gotten rid of mandatory test scores.


It doesn’t seem like colleges are going to reinstate mandatory test scores, so the competitiveness of Ivy League institutions is only going to grow. Not every college is going down this route, though. Many colleges in Florida refused to go test optional, even during the pandemic. If the optional test is important to you, you’ll have to check the requirements of each school.


Are There Fewer Spots This Year?


COVID-19 impacted many students. There were seniors who didn’t graduate and incoming freshmen who postponed their admittance. Many students applying now wonder how this will affect their chances of getting into an Ivy League college. Most of the colleges accepted a normal number of students and considered the impact of COVID-19 during the admissions process. Admissions were so competitive last year because they had a record number of applicants. 


For example, Yale University had 46,905 applicants and 2,169 admitted students during the 2021 admissions cycle. This is a record-breaking number of applicants for Yale but a normal number of admitted students. The large applicant pool is what made the admissions cycle so competitive, not because there were fewer spots available. 


Will the Waitlist Be More Difficult to Get Off Of?


The waitlist shouldn’t be more difficult to get off of because colleges won’t admit more students to their waitlist. With the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to college admissions, students have been applying to more colleges than they normally would. While this increases the application volume for each school, it also means that admitted students are less likely to accept a college’s offer. For this reason, it will be easier to get off of the waitlist compared to previous admissions cycles. Colleges understand that not everyone they send an offer to will end up attending their schools, so if fewer people accept their offers, they will need to admit more students off of their waitlists. 


Will Schools Remain Test Optional After COVID-19?


More colleges are announcing that they will remain test optional in the near future. As a result, more students are applying to competitive schools due to the expansion of access. Ultimately, this makes the college admissions process more equal for students from lower-income families. 


The increased access results in more students applying each year, which will then lower the acceptance rate for competitive schools. This is the trend that has been happening for the past 20 years. Almost every year, the top universities are becoming increasingly selective because more students are applying.

Short Bio
Adrian is a current senior at Dartmouth College, originally from Seattle, WA. At Dartmouth, she studies philosophy and neuroscience, and has been involved with research in the philosophy department, sexual assault prevention on campus, and mentorship programs for first year students. She spent her junior fall studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.