Worst Admissions Year Ever? The 2021-22 College Admission Cycle

College application process remains difficult despite dropping COVID-19 cases and relaxed restrictions.


Vasily Koloda

As graduation approaches, the class of 2022 has to consider the effects the ongoing pandemic will have on their freshman year.

Liz Dolich, Staff Writer

This school year, seniors around the world experienced a whirlwind of emotions: waiting, joy, and, for many, heartbreak. The pandemic has caused many lasting effects that may be around for years to come. One change being the college admissions process. 

Due to COVID-19 many students were unable to take a standardized test such as the SAT or ACT. As a result, many schools went test-optional which means people had the choice of either submitting or not submitting their test scores. 

This caused a spike of the number of applicants and a drop in acceptance rates everywhere as more students applied because of this policy.

The class of 2026 is the second year who experienced this test-optional phenomena. They watched their peers from the class of 2025 go through the cycle and face many rejections. Due to this, many applicants applied to 15 or even 20 schools, with many colleges reaching their highest number of applicants ever.

Northeastern University dropped into the single digits for the first time with a 7% “regular decision” acceptance rate. Some of the top ivies were even as low as 3-4%. 

Despite current relaxed restrictions, the class of 2022 seniors are currently facing the same effects that ‘20 and ‘21 high school graduates experienced. As a result, many students either deferred one year or took a gap year, so they wouldn’t have to go to school with heavy mask restrictions. 

These deferrals pooled over into 2025 decisions, and once again into 2026 decisions. 

Another popular result of this cycle is waitlists. With everything being so hard to predict last year, some universities over-admitted their freshman class. To prevent this from happening again, colleges utilized their waitlists much more this year.

While no one can predict how waitlists move, people are starting to hear back before May 1st. This is once again a result of seniors applying to so many schools this year.

The class of 2027 and beyond may see this information and become overwhelmed. However, the Campanile has asked some of this year’s seniors for some parting words of wisdom to make the process for future students a little less stressful. 

Kate Kelly ‘22 says to begin “looking at colleges early and (if you can) apply somewhere early decision as acceptance rates are higher.”

“Don’t internalize disappointing news from a college as failure,” Leah Scott ‘22 said, “but take it as a sign that a better school for you is out there waiting for you to say yes.”

There is a college out there for anyone who wishes to go. Do not let any disappointing news get to you—as it is not a reflection of you, but of your fit to the institution.