The pandemic crushed the number of college applications, pulling it down sharply from 2019 to 2020. Jenny Rickard, president and CEO commented “Since March, Covid-19 has significantly disrupted an admission system that has been in place for decades and our worst fears have been realized.” The figure rebounded back from 2020 to to 2021 as it rose 21%.
From California to New England, the number of applications to accredited colleges and universities in 2021 was in some cases double the number in the previous admissions cycle. Applications to top-shelf schools like U.C. Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania in the last admissions cycle rose by 28% and 34%, respectively, compared to the previous cycle, according to the Los Angeles Times. Colgate University, the private liberal arts college in Hamilton, New York, saw applications jump 102% in 2021.
To determine the college with the largest increases in applicants over the past five academic cycles, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed applications data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Colleges and universities were ranked based on the percentage increase in applications from the 2015-16 school year to the 2020-21 school year.
Only schools with at least 1,000 applications in the 2015-16 school year were considered. Acceptance rates in the 2020-21 school year, total enrollment as of fall 2020, and application requirements for the 2020-21 school year also came from the NCES.
The number of applicants to the 40 universities or colleges we considered jumped by at least 110%, like at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design since the 2015-16 academic year. The number of applicants spiked by 865% at Southern New Hampshire University.
The college with the largest rise in applications was Southern New Hampshire University (Manchester, NH). Here are the details:
> Increase in applications, 2015 to 2020: +865.3% (3,848 to 37,143)
> Acceptance rate: 93.5%
> Total enrollment: 134,345
> Application requirements: GPA required, test scores neither required nor recommended, recommendations required
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