Fall 2019 Changes To College Admissions (So Far)

The college testing and admissions process can change as quickly as the weather—and keeping up with what’s new can be difficult. This fall, there are a number of changes that will affect students in the high school class of 2021 and younger.

First, the National Association for College Admission Counseling announced several significant changes in September:

1. Admissions-season length. Under the old rules, at most schools students had until May 1 to pick the college they’d attend—and once May 1 arrived, those decisions were final. Starting in the 2020-21 school year, by contrast, colleges can continue recruiting students after May 1, even after they’ve turned down that school or chosen another school. They can offer more scholarship money, better housing, first shot at popular classes—a host of benefits aimed at changing students’ minds.

2. Expanded early-decision incentives. Over the past decade, early decision has become increasingly popular. Students like it because it traditionally improves their chances of acceptance. Schools like it because it’s binding—students who apply early decision must attend that school if accepted—which helps them predict incoming class size and improve budgeting. Now, schools can offer any combination of inducements to early-decision admits, like special housing or financial-aid packages.

3. Expanded transfer-student targeting. In the past, schools were barred from soliciting transfer applications from the prior year’s freshman applicant pool. Starting next school year, schools can begin transfer recruiting among past applicants who are enrolled at other schools.


Second, on the testing front, ACT announced that students who want to improve their scores on the 5-part, 3-hour exam can now retake single sections instead of sitting for all of them again. And students can now take the exam online or on paper on national test days (at selected test centers initially, eventually expanding to all). Check out what our colleagues at Compass Education Group have to say about these changes.

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