The Class of 2018: Trends and Takeaways

Summer is officially upon us!

While that phrase may elicit a chorus of groans from many of us in the UAE who now see our thermometers regularly ticking above forty degrees, this is also a time of great excitement and anticipation for those newly graduated students who are ready to forge their paths in the world, freshly printed diplomas in hand. For those of us at Hale, this is a time to congratulate our graduating students, celebrate their incredible accomplishments, and analyze current trends and patterns in North American university admissions.

So how did Hale’s Class of 2018 fare?

140 universities across the US and Canada accepted Hale students this year.

Hale students received acceptances from 7 Ivy League universities, including 3 acceptances to Brown, 2 acceptances to Princeton, and acceptances to Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. 
Hale students received 70 acceptances to Top 20 universities and liberal arts colleges, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Amherst College, Johns Hopkins University, and Stanford University (where Hale has had a student accepted every year since 2013).

Hale students secured 47 acceptances to University of California (UC) schools – among those were 5 acceptances to UC Berkeley and 11 acceptances to UCLA.

100% of Hale students who sought scholarships received them, and this year Hale students received nearly 37 million dirhams in scholarship money.

Hale students received 5 full-tuition scholarships from universities including Columbia University, Williams College, and New York University.

As we move into the next application cycle and beyond, what are the sorts of trends that we can expect to see in US college admissions? How is the landscape changing, and what do these shifts mean for international students in particular?

Test-optional and test-flexible policies continue to become increasingly popular among American universities. In a major coup for the test-optional movement, the University of Chicago recently announced that, beginning with its Class of 2023 cohort, it will no longer require SAT or ACT scores from American applicants and will be implementing a text-flexible policy for international applicants, becoming the first Top 10 research university in the US to make this shift. However, it remains to be seen whether or not this will be a catalyst for change across the most selective universities in the US; some admissions deans – including Dean Eric Furda of the University of Pennsylvania – have reiterated in response to the University of Chicago’s decision that they do not plan to become test-optional in the near future.

Waitlists have become a progressively more popular tool for universities to utilize in the manipulation of their yield rates. According to the 2017 edition of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s (NACAC) annual “State of College Admission” report, there was an 11% jump in the number of waitlist positions offered to college applicants between the Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 application cycles, while simultaneously only 14% of students who accepted waitlist positions at universities with sub-50% acceptance rates were eventually admitted.

As the volume of applications to universities steadily increases (NACAC reports that the number of international student applications to US universities grew by 13% between the 2015 and 2016 application cycles), and as factors like grade point average continue to become homogenized and inflated (according to two researchers from the College Board and the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education, 47% of American high schoolers now graduate with “A” averages), intangible factors like essay writing, extracurricular involvement, and demonstrated interest are becoming the focal points to admissions officers in their assessments of student applications. How will this student contribute to the university community? How has this student proven himself or herself to be a leader and person capable of taking the initiative? These are the kinds of questions that admissions officers are asking.

As we close the book on another successful admissions season, we would like to once again congratulate the Class of 2018! The possibilities before you are endless, and we cannot wait to see what you accomplish in college and beyond. As for the Class of 2019 – enjoy the summer, rest up, and be ready to put your nose to the grindstone in the fall. The payoff in the end makes the whole process worth it.

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