Why College Application Numbers for the Class of 2025 are Setting Records – and What You Can Do to Stand Out

I’d start this blog by reiterating how unprecedented this past year has been, but if you’re anything like me, the word “unprecedented” has become so overused it makes you want to bang your head against the wall. (You know, the walls you’ve pretty much been stuck behind for this entire unprecedented year.) Loungewear purchases and grocery deliveries skyrocketed in the year 2020 and, as it turns out, that’s not all. Large public schools and elite private colleges around the country are reporting record-setting application numbers for the class of 2025 – here are a few reasons why this is happening, and what you can do to stand out from the masses.

Because of COVID-19, schools are “test optional” for the first time.

One thing I looked at when investigating a potential school was the average SAT and ACT score of admitted students. If it was exceptionally high, I may have second-guessed my chances. Now, the most elite and competitive schools are not looking at scores at all! The result? Many students are feeling a bit more confident about their chances. This may explain why Harvard has seen a 41.6% increase in applications, Dartmouth has seen a 32.5% increase in applications, and so on. Students are shooting their shot at these academic powerhouses, no longer feeling held back by middle of the road test scores.


Applicants are hesitant to cross a school off their list without visiting the campus.

Most schools sound amazing online – they’re selling themselves, after all. However, spend a weekend exploring the campus and it’s typically easy to determine if a school is a good fit. Sadly, because this pandemic has canceled so many campus visits, applicants don’t get the benefit of in-person impressions. Instead, many students are keeping their options open by applying to every school that even remotely strikes their fancy. This explains why, as Jenny Rickard, President & CEO of CommonApp highlights in this tweet, there has been a 9% increase in the application per applicant ratio. In other words, each applicant, on average, is applying to more schools.


There are more international applicants than in prior years.

The class of 2025 is not only competing with American applicants, but applicants from across the globe. Christopher Rim, the CEO and founder of Command Education, tells CNBC that there was a notable increase in international applications arriving after the presidential election. “After Biden won, we received a spike in inquiries from international students, mainly from Hong Kong and Singapore,” Rim explained. Overall, international application rates rose by 11% for the class of 2025.


A record amount of students from the class of 2024 took gap years.

One potential reason that applicants are applying to more schools? The seats are more limited at each one! Because of COVID-19, a record amount of students took gap years instead of starting school this fall. (For example, at the University of Pennsylvania gap years increased by 300%!) Because those students will be starting with the class of 2025, there are less open slots for brand new applicants.

Interestingly, while large public universities and elite private universities are seeing increases in applications, other schools are seeing drops. In fact, according to this article from CNBC, the number of students submitting undergraduate applications has actually fallen by 2% due to the coronavirus, explaining, “many would-be undergraduates decided to postpone college rather than start their education online or they found the price prohibitive in the face of more pressing financial concerns, including food insecurity and family job losses.”

The increase in applications, therefore, isn’t indicative of an increase in applicants. We’ve already noted that applicants that are applying for undergraduate admission are applying to more schools each, on average. The increase in international applicants also contributes to the rising number of applications, despite the reduced amount of applicants.

So, how do you stand out?

That’s where the Enrichery’s College Admissions Summer Workshop comes in! In this six-day, all-inclusive workshop, you’ll solidify your college list, create your resume, write your essays, finish your applications in their entirety, and more. Most importantly, our expert coaches and editors will make sure your application has what it takes to stand out in one of the most competitive seasons of college admissions.

Wondering if our College Admissions Workshop is the right fit for you? Let’s chat! We’re always here to answer questions or simply explain a bit more. Send us a message, contact us on Facebook, or email team@theenrichery.com. We’ll discuss your specific needs, and see if this Workshop is the perfect addition to your summer plans!